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an announcement moment-to-moment of your freedom, not your

source:Enshenyizhongwangedit:sciencetime:2023-11-30 18:46:00

The next day was Sunday, and for Gilbert was a day of liberty. Towards the middle of the forenoon, he went out to take a walk in the woods. He had wandered for an hour, when, turning his head, he saw coming behind him a little troop of children, decked out in strange costumes. The two oldest wore blue dresses and red mantles, and their heads were covered with felt caps encircled by bands of gilt paper in imitation of aureoles. A smaller one wore a gray dress, upon which were painted black devils and inverted torches. The last five were clothed in white; their shoulders were ornamented with long wings of rose-tinted gauze, and they held in their hands sprigs of box by way of palm branches. Gilbert slackened his pace, and when they came up with him, he recognized in the one who wore the san-benito the little hog- driver, so maltreated by Stephane. The child, who while marching looked down complacently on the torches and the devils with which his robe was decorated, advanced towards Gilbert, and without waiting for his questions, said to him, "I am Judas Iscariot. Here is Saint Peter, and here is Saint John. The others are angels. We are all going to R----, to take part in a grand procession, that they have there every five years. If you want to see something fine, just follow us. I shall sing a solo and so will Saint Peter; the others sing in the chorus." Upon which Judas Iscariot, Saint Peter, Saint John and the angels resumed their march, and Gilbert decided to follow them. The first houses of the village of R---- rise at the extremity of the wooded plain which extends to the south of Geierfels. In about half an hour, the little procession made its entry into the village in the midst of a considerable crowd which hastily gathered from the neighboring hamlets. Gilbert made his way along the main street, decorated with hangings and altars, and passed on to an open square planted with elms, of which the church formed one of the sides. Presently the bells sounded a grand peal; the doors of the church opened, and the procession came out. At the head marched priests, monks, and laymen of both sexes, bearing wax tapers, crosses, and banners. Behind them came a long train of children representing the escort of the Saviour to Calvary. One of them, a young lad of ten years, filled the role of Christ. At a moment when Gilbert was absorbed in reflection, a voice which was not unknown to him murmured in his ear these words, which made him shudder: "You seem prodigiously interested, Monsieur, in this ridiculous comedy!" Turning his head quickly, he recognized Stephane. The young man had just dismounted from his horse, which he had left in the care of his servant, and had pushed his way through the crowd, indifferent to the exclamations of the good people whose pious meditations he disturbed. Gilbert looked at him a moment severely, and then fixed his eyes on the procession, and tried, but in vain, to forget the existence of this Stephane whom he had not met before since the adventure at the fountain, and whose presence at this moment caused him an indefinable uneasiness. The reproachful look which he had cast upon the young man, far from intimidating him, served but to excite his mocking humor, and after a few seconds of silence he commenced the following soliloquy in French, speaking low, but in a voice so distinct that Gilbert, to his great regret, lost not a word of it: "Mon Dieu! how ridiculous these young ones are! They really seem to take the whole thing seriously; what vulgar types! what square, bony faces. Don't their low, stupid expressions contrast oddly with their wings? Do you see that little chap twisting his mouth and rolling his eyes? His air of contrition is quite edifying. The other day he was caught stealing fagots from a neighbor. . . . And look at that other one who has lost his wings! What an unlucky accident! He is stooping to pick them up, and tucks them under his arm like a cocked hat. The idea is a happy one! But thank God, their litanies are over. It's Saint Peter's turn to sing." For a long time Gilbert looked about him anxiously, seeking an opportunity to escape, but the crowd was so compact that it was impossible to make his way through it. He saw himself forced to remain where he was and to submit, even to the end, to Stephane's amiable soliloquy. So he pretended not to hear him, and concealed his impatience as well as he could; but his nervousness betrayed him in spite of himself, and to the great diversion of Stephane, who maliciously enjoyed his own success. Fortunately for Gilbert, when Judas had stopped singing, the procession resumed its march towards a second station at the other end of the village, and this caused a general movement among the bystanders who hedged his passage. Gilbert profited by this disorder to escape, and was soon lost in the crowd, where even Stephane's piercing eyes could not follow him. Hastening from the village he took the road to the woods. "This Stephane is decidedly a nuisance," thought he. "Three weeks since he surprised me at a bright fountain, where I was deliciously dreaming, and put my fancies to flight, and now by his impertinent babbling he has spoiled a fete in which I took interest and pleasure. What is he holding in reserve for me? The most annoying part of it is, that henceforth I shall be condemned to see him daily. Even to-day, in a few hours, I shall meet him at his father's table. Presentiments do not always deceive, and at first sight I recognize in him a strong enemy to my repose and happiness; but I shall manage to keep him at a distance. We won't distress ourselves over a trifle. What does philosophy amount to, if the happiness of a philosopher is to be at the mercy of a spoiled child!" Thus saying, he drew from his pocket a book which he often carried in his walks: It was a volume of Goethe, containing the admirable treatise on the "Metamorphosis of Plants." He began to read, often raising his head from the page to gaze at a passing cloud, or a bird fluttering from tree to tree. To this pleasant occupation he abandoned himself for nearly an hour, when he heard the neighing of a horse behind him, and turning, he saw Stephane advancing at full speed on his superb chestnut and followed at a few paces by his groom, mounted on a gray horse. Gilbert's first impulse was to dart into a path which opened at his left, and thus gain the shelter of the copse; but he did not wish to give Stephane the pleasure of imagining that he was afraid of him, and so continued on his way, his eyes riveted upon the book. Stephane soon came up to him, and bringing his horse to a walk, thus accosted him: "Do you know, sir, that you are not very polite? You quitted me abruptly, without taking leave. Your proceedings are singular, and you seem to be a stranger to the first principles of good breeding." "What do you expect, my dear sir?" answered Gilbert. "You were so amiable, so prepossessing the first time I had the honor of meeting you, that I was discouraged. I said to myself, that do what I would, I should always be in arrears to you." "You are spiteful, Mr. Secretary," retorted Stephane. "What, have you not forgotten that little affair at the spring?" "You have taken no trouble, it seems, to make me forget it." "It is true, I was wrong," replied he with a sneer; "wait a moment, I will dismount, go upon my knees there in the middle of the road, and say to you in dolorous voice, 'Sir, I'm grieved, heart-broken, desperate,'--For what? I know not. Tell me, I pray you, sir, for what must I beg your pardon? For if I rightly remember, you commenced by raising your cane to me. "I did not raise my cane to you," replied Gilbert, beside himself with indignation; "I contented myself with parrying the blow which you were about to give me." "It was not my intention to strike you," rejoined Stephane, impetuously. "And besides, learn once for all, that between us things are not equal, and that even should I provoke you, you would be a wretch to raise the end of your finger against me." "Oh, that is too much!" cried Gilbert, laughing loudly. "And why so, my little friend?" "Because--because--" stammered Stephane; and then suddenly stopped. An expression of bitter sadness passed over his face; his brows contracted and his eyes became fixed. It was thus that terrible paroxysm had commenced which so alarmed Gilbert at their first meeting. This time, fortunately, the attack was less violent. The good Gilbert passed quickly from anger to pity; "there is a secret wound in that heart," thought he, and he was still more convinced of it when, after a long pause Stephane, recovering the use of his speech, said to him in a broken voice: "I was ill the other day, I often am. People should have some consideration for invalids." Gilbert made no answer; he feared by a hard word to exasperate his soul so passionate, and so little master of itself; but he thought that when Stephane felt ill, he had better stay in his room. They walked on some moments in silence until, recovering from his dejection, Stephane said ironically: "You made a mistake in leaving the fete so soon. If you had stayed until the end, you would have heard Christ and his mother sing; you lost a charming duet." "Let us drop that subject," interrupted Gilbert; "we could not understand each other. Yours is a kind of pleasantry for which I have but little taste." "Pedant!" murmured Stephane, turning his head, then adding with animation: "It is just because I respect religion that I do not like to see it burlesqued and parodied. Let a true angel appear and I am ready to render him homage; but I am enraged when I see great seraph's wings tied with white strings to the shoulders of wicked, boorish, little thieves, liars, cowards, slaves, and rascals. Their hypocritical airs do not impose on me, for I read their base natures in their eyes. I detest all affectations, all shams. I have the misfortune of being able to see through all masks." "These are very old words for such very young lips," answered Gilbert sadly. "I suspect, my child, you are repeating a lesson you have learned." "And what do you know of my age?" cried he angrily. "By what do you judge? Are faces clocks which mark the hours and minutes of life? Well, yes, I am but sixteen; but I have lived longer than you. I am not a library rat, and have not studied the world in duodecimos. Thank God! for the advancement of my education. He has gathered under my eyes a few specimens of the human race which have enabled me to judge of the rest, and the more experience I gain, the more I am convinced that all men are alike. On that account I scorn them all,--all without exception!" "I thank you sincerely for myself and your groom," answered Gilbert smiling. "Don't trouble yourself about my groom," replied Stephane, beating down with his whip the foliage which obstructed his path. "In the first place, he knows but little French; and it is useless to tell him in Russian that I despise him,--he would be none the worse for it. He is well lodged, well fed, and well clothed; what matters my scorn to him? And besides, let me tell you for your guidance, that my groom is not a groom, he is my jailer. I am a prisoner under constant surveillance; these woods constitute a yard, where I can walk but twice a week, and this excellent Ivan is my keeper. Search his pockets and you will find a scourge." Gilbert turned to examine the groom, who answered his scrutinizing look by a jovial and intelligent smile. Ivan represented the type of the Russian serf in all his original beauty. He was small, but vigorous and robust; he had a fresh complexion, cheeks full and rosy, hair of a pale yellow, large soft eyes and a long chestnut beard, in which threads of silver already mingled. It was such a face as one often sees among the lower classes of Slavonians; indicating at once energy in action and placidity in repose. When Gilbert had looked at him well, he said, "My dear sir, I do not believe in Ivan's scourge." "Ah! that is like you bookworms," exclaimed Stephane with an angry gesture. "You receive all the monstrous nonsense which you find in your old books for Gospel truth, and without any hesitation, while the ordinary matters of life appear to you prodigious absurdities, which you refuse to believe." "Don't be angry. Ivan's scourge is not exactly an article of faith. One can fail to believe in it without being in danger of hell-fire. Besides, I am ready to recant my heresy; but I will confess to you that I find nothing ferocious or stern in the face of this honest servant. At all events, he is a jailer who does not keep his prisoners closely, and who sometimes gives them a relaxation beyond his orders; for the other day, it seems to me, you scoured the country without him, and really the use you make of your liberty--" "The other day," interrupted Stephane, "I did a foolish thing. For the first time I amused myself by evading Ivan's vigilance. It was an effort that I longed to make, but it turned out badly for me. Would you like to see with your own eyes what this fine exploit cost me?" Then pushing up the right sleeve of his black velvet blouse, he showed Gilbert a thin delicate wrist marked by a red circle, which indicated the prolonged friction of an iron ring. Gilbert could not repress an exclamation of surprise and pity at the sight, and repented his pleasantry. "I have been chained for a fortnight in a dungeon which I thought I should never come out of again," said Stephane, "and I indulged in a good many reflections there. Ah! you were right when you accused me of repeating a lesson I had learned. The pretty bracelet which I bear on my right arm is my thought-teacher, and if I dared to repeat all that it taught me--" Then interrupting himself: "A lie!" exclaimed he in a bitter tone, drawing his cap down over his eyes. "The truth is, that I came out of the dungeon like a lamb, flexible as a glove, and that I am capable of committing a thousand base acts to save myself the horror of returning there. I am a coward like the rest, and when I tell you that I despise all men, do not believe that I make an exception in my own favor." And at these words he drove the spurs into his horse's flank so violently that the fiery chestnut, irritated by the rude attack, kicked and pranced. Stephane subdued him by the sole power of his haughty and menacing voice; then exciting him again, he launched him forward at full speed and amused himself by suddenly bringing him up with a jerk of the rein, and by turns making him dance and plunge; then urging him across the road he made him clear at a bound, the ditch and hedge which bordered it. After several minutes of this violent exercise, he trotted away, followed by his inseparable Ivan, leaving Gilbert to his reflections, which were not the most agreeable. He had experienced in talking with Stephane an uneasiness, a secret trouble which had never oppressed him before. The passionate character of this young man, the rudeness of his manners, in which a free savage grace mingled, the exaggeration of his language, betraying the disorder of an ill-governed mind, the rapidity with which his impressions succeeded each other, the natural sweetness of his voice, the caressing melody of which was disturbed by loud exclamations and rude and harsh accents; his gray eyes turning nearly black and flashing fire in a paroxysm of anger or emotion; the contrast between the nobility and distinction of his face and bearing, and the arrogant scorn of proprieties in which he seemed to delight--in short, some painful mystery written upon his forehead and betrayed in his smile--all gave Gilbert much to speculate upon and troubled him profoundly. The aversion he had at first felt for Stephane had changed to pity since the poor child had shown him the red bracelet, which he called his "thought- teacher,"--but pity without sympathy is a sentiment to which one yields with reluctance. Gilbert reproached himself for taking such a lively interest in this young man who had so little merited his esteem, and more especially as with his pity mingled an indefinable terror or apprehension. In fact, he hardly knew himself; he so calm, so reasonable, to be the victim of such painful presentiments! It seemed to him that Stephane was destined to exercise great influence over his fate, and to bring disorder into his life. Suddenly, he heard once more the sound of horse's hoofs and Stephane re-appeared. Perceiving Gilbert, the young man stopped his horse and cried out, "Mr. Secretary, I am looking for you." And then, laughing, continued: "This is a tender avowal I have just made; for believe me, it is years since I have thought of looking for anybody; but as in your estimation I have not been very courteous, and as I pride myself on my good manners, I wish to obtain your pardon by flattering you a little." "This is too much goodness," answered Gilbert. "Don't take the trouble. The best course you can pursue to win my esteem is to trouble yourself about me as little as possible." "And you will do the same in regard to me?" "Remember that matters are not equal between us. I am but an insect,--it is easy for you to avoid me, whilst--" "You are not talking with common sense," interrupted Stephane; "look at this green beetle crawling across the road. I see him, but he does not see me. But to drop this bantering--for it's quite out of character with me--what I like in you is your remarkable frankness, it really amuses me. By the way, be good enough to tell me what book that is which never leaves you for a moment and which you ponder over with such intensity. Do tell me," added he in a coaxing, childish tone, "what is the book that you press to your heart with so much tenderness." Gilbert handed it to him. "'Essay on the Metamorphosis of Plants.' So, plants have the privilege of changing themselves? Mon Dieu, they must be happy! But they ought to tell us their secret." Then closing the volume, and returning it to Gilbert, he exclaimed: "Happy man! you live among the plants of the field as if in your element. Are you not something of a plant yourself? I am not sure but that you have just now stopped reading to say to the primroses and anemones covering this slope, 'I am your brother!' Mon Dieu! I am sorry to have disturbed the charming conversation! And hold! your eyes are a little the color of the periwinkle." He turned his head and looked at Gilbert with a scornful air, and had already prepared to leave him, when a glance over the road dispersed his ill-humor, for in the distance he saw Wilhelm and his comrades returning from the fete. "Come quick, my children," cried he, rising in his stirrups. "Come quick, my lambs, for I have something of the greatest importance to propose to you." Hearing his challenge, the children raised their eyes and recognizing Stephane, they stopped and took counsel together. The somewhat brutal impudence of the young Russian had given him a bad reputation, and the little peasants would rather have turned back than encounter his morose jesting or his terrible whip. The three apostles and the five angels, after consulting together, concluded prudently to beat a retreat, when Stephane drawing from his pocket a great leather purse, shook it in the air crying, "There is money to be gained here,--come, my dear children, you shall have all you want." The large, full purse which Stephane shook in his hand was a very tempting bait for the eight children; but his whip, which he held under his left arm, warned them to be careful. Hesitating between fear and covetousness, they stood still like the ass in the fable between his two bundles of hay; but Stephane at that moment was seized with a happy inspiration and threw his switch to the top of a neighboring tree, where it rested. This produced a magical effect, the children with one accord deciding to approach him, although with slow and hesitating steps. Wilhelm alone, remembering his recent treatment, darted into a path nearby and disappeared in the bushes. The troop of children stopped a dozen paces from Stephane and formed in a group, the little ones hiding behind the larger. All of them fumbled nervously with the ends of their belts, and kept their heads down, awkward and ashamed, with eyes fixed upon the ground, but casting sidelong glances at the great leather purse which danced between Stephane's hands. "You, Saint Peter," said he to them in a grave tone; "you, Saint John, and your five dear little angels of Heaven, listen to me closely. You have sung to-day very pretty songs in honor of the good Lord; he will reward you some day in the other world; but for the little pleasures people give me, I reward them at once. So every one of you shall have a bright dollar, if you will do the little thing I ask. It is only to kiss delicately and respectfully the toe of my boot. I tell you again, that this little ceremony will gain for each of you a bright dollar, and you will afterwards have the happiness of knowing that you have learned to do something which you can't do too well if you want to get on in this world." The seven children looked at Stephane with a sheepish air and open mouths. Not one of them stirred. Their immobility, and their seven pairs of fixed round eyes directed upon him, provoked him. "Come, my little lambs," he continued persuasively, "don't stretch your eyes in this way; they look like barn doors wide open. You should do this bravely and neatly. Ah! mon Dieu! you will see it done often enough, and do it yourselves again too in your lifetime. There must always be a beginning. Come on, make haste. A thaler is worth thirty-six silbergroschen, and a silbergroschen is worth ten pfennigs, and for five pfennigs you can buy a cake, a hot muffin, or a little man in licorice--" And shaking the leather purse again, he cried: "Ah, what a pretty sound that makes! How pleasantly the click, click of these coins sounds to our ears. All music is discordant compared to that. Nightingales and thrushes, stop your concerts! we can sing better than you. I am an artist who plays your favorite air on his violin. Let us open the ball, my darlings." The seven children seemed still uncertain. They were red with excitement, and consulted each other by looks. At last the youngest, a little blond fellow, made up his mind. "Monsieur HAS ONE CHEVRON TOO MANY," said he to his companions, which being interpreted means: "Monsieur is a little foolish with pride, his head is turned, he is crack-brained, and," added he laughingly, "after all, it's only in fun, and there is a dollar to get." So speaking, he approached Stephane deliberately and gave his boot a loud kiss. The ice was broken; all of his companions followed his example, some with a grave and composed air, others laughing till they showed all their teeth. Stephane clapped his hands in triumph: "Bravo! my dear friends," exclaimed he. "The business went off admirably, charmingly!" Then drawing seven dollars from his purse, he threw them into the road with a scornful gesture: "Now then, Messrs. Apostles and Seraphim," cried he in a thundering voice, "pick up your money quick, and scamper away as fast as your legs can carry you. Vile brood, go and tell your mothers by what a glorious exploit you won this prize! And while the children were moving off, he turned towards Gilbert and said, crossing his arms: "Well, my man of the periwinkles, what do you think of it?" Gilbert had witnessed this little scene with mingled sadness and disgust. He would have given much if only one of the children had resisted Stephane's insolent caprice; but not having this satisfaction, he tried to conceal his chagrin as best he could. "What does it prove?" replied he dryly. "It seems to me it proves many things, and among others this: that certain emotions are very ridiculous, and that certain mentors of my acquaintance who thrust their lessons upon others--" He said no more, for at this moment a pebble thrown by a vigorous hand whistled by his ears, and rolled his cap in the dust. Starting, he uttered an angry cry, and striking spurs into his horse, he launched him at a gallop across the bushes. Gilbert picked up the cap, and handed it to Ivan, who said to him in bad German: "Pardon him; the poor child is sick," and then departed hastily in pursuit of his young master. Gilbert ran after them. When he had overtaken them, Stephane had dismounted, and stood with clenched fists before a child, who, quite out of breath from running, had thrown himself exhausted at the foot of a tree. In running he had torn many holes in his San- benito, and he was looking with mournful eyes at these rents, and replied only in monosyllables to all of Stephane's threats. "You are at my mercy," said the young man to him at last. "I will forgive you if you ask my pardon on your knees." "I won't do it," replied the child, getting up. "I have no pardon to ask. You struck me with your whip, and I swore to pay you for it. I'm a good shot. I sighted your cap and I was sure I'd hit it. That makes you mad, and now we're even. But I'll promise not to throw any more stones, if you'll promise not to strike me with your whip any more." "That is a very reasonable proposition," said Gilbert. "I don't ask your opinion, sir," interrupted Stephane haughtily,-- then turning to Ivan: "Ivan, my dear Ivan," continued he, "in this matter you ought to obey me. You know very well the Count does not love me, but he does not mean to have others insult me: it is a privilege he reserves to himself. Dismount, and make this little rascal kneel to me and ask my pardon." Ivan shook his head. "You struck him first," answered he; "why should he ask your pardon?" In vain Stephane exhausted supplications and threats. The serf remained inflexible, and during his talk Gilbert approached Wilhelm, and said to him in a low voice: "Run away quickly, my child; but remember your promise; if you don't, you'll have to settle with me." Stephane, seeing him escape, would have started in pursuit; but Gilbert barred his way. "Ivan!" cried he, wringing his hands, "drive this man out of my path!" Ivan shook his head again. "I don't wish to harm the young Frenchman," replied he; "he has a kind way and loves children." Stephane's face was painfully agitated. His lips trembled. He looked with sinister eye first at Ivan, then at Gilbert. At last he said to himself in a stifled voice: "Wretch that I am! I am as feeble as a worm, and weakness is not respected!" Then lowering his head, he approached his horse, mounted him, and pushed slowly through the copse. When he had regained the wood, looking fixedly at Gilbert: "Mr. Secretary," said he, "my father often quotes that diplomatist who said that all men have their price; unfortunately I am not rich enough to buy you; you are worth more than a dollar; but permit me to give you some good advice. When you return to the castle, repeat to Count Kostia certain words that I have allowed to escape me to-day. It will give him infinite pleasure. Perhaps he will make you his spy-in-chief, and without asking it, he may double your salary. The most profitable trade in the world is burning candles on the devil's shrine. You will do wonders in it, as well as others." Upon which, with a profound bow to Gilbert, he disappeared at a full trot. "The devil! the devil! he talks of nothing but the devil!" said Gilbert to himself, taking the road to the castle. "My poor friend, you are condemned to pass some years of your life here between a tyrant who is sometimes amiable, and a victim who is never so at all!"

an announcement moment-to-moment of your freedom, not your

When Gilbert got back to the castle, M. Leminof was walking on the terrace. He perceived his secretary at some distance, and made signs to him to come and join him. They made several turns on the parapet, and while walking, Gilbert studied Stephane's father with still greater attention than he had done before. He was now most forcibly struck by his eyes, of a slightly turbid gray, whose glances, vague, unsteady, indiscernible, became at moments cold and dull as lead. Never had M. Leminof been so amiable to his secretary; he spoke to him playfully, and looked at him with an expression of charming good nature. They had conversed for a quarter of an hour when the sound of a bell gave notice that dinner was served. Count Kostia conducted Gilbert to the dining-room. It was an immense vaulted apartment, wainscoted in black oak, and lighted by three small ogive windows, looking out upon the terrace. The arches of the ceiling were covered with old apocalyptic paintings, which time had molded and scaled off. In the center could be seen the Lamb with seven horns seated on his throne; and round about him the four-and-twenty elders clothed in white. On the lower parts of the pendentive the paintings were so much damaged that the subjects were hardly recognizable. Here and there could be seen wings of angels, trumpets, arms which had lost their hands, busts from which the head had disappeared, crowns, stars, horses' manes, and dragons' tails. These gloomy relics sometimes formed combinations that were mysterious and ominous. It was a strange decoration for a dining-hall. At this hour of the day, the three arched windows gave but a dull and scanty light; and more was supplied by three bronze lamps, suspended from the ceiling by iron chains; even their brilliant flames were hardly sufficient to light up the depths of this cavernous hall. Below the three lamps was spread a long table, where twenty guests might easily find room; at one of the rounded ends of this table, three covers and three morocco chairs had been arranged in a semi-circle; at the other end, a solitary cover was placed before a simple wooden stool. The Count seated himself and motioned Gilbert to place himself at his right; then unfolding his napkin, he said harshly to the great German valet de chambre: "Why are not my son and Father Alexis here yet? Go and find them." Some moments after, the door opened, and Stephane appeared. He crossed the hall, his eyes downcast, and bending over the long thin hand which his father presented to him without looking at him, he touched it slightly with his lips. This mark of filial deference must have cost him much, for he was seized with that nervous trembling to which he was subject when moved by strong emotions. Gilbert could not help saying to himself: "My child, the seraphim and apostles are well revenged for the humiliation you inflicted upon them." It seemed as if the young man divined Gilbert's thoughts, for as he raised his head, he launched a ferocious glance at him; then seating himself at his father's left, he remained as motionless as a statue, his eyes fixed upon his plate. Meantime he whom they called Father Alexis did not make his appearance, and the Count, becoming impatient, threw his napkin brusquely upon the table, and rose to go after him; but at this same moment the door opened, and Gilbert saw a bearded face which wore an expression of anxiety and terror. Much heated and out of breath, the priest threw a scrutinizing glance upon his lord and master, and from the Count turned his eyes towards the empty stool, and looked as if he would have given his little finger to be able to reach even that uncomfortable seat without being seen. "Father Alexis, you forget yourself in your eternal daubs!" exclaimed M. Leminof, reseating himself. "You know that I dislike to wait. I profess, it is true, a passionate admiration for the burlesque masterpieces with which you are decorating the walls of my chapel; but I cannot suffer them to annoy me, and I beg you not to sacrifice again the respect you owe me to your foolish passion for those coarse paintings; if you do, I shall some fine morning bury your sublime daubings under a triple coat of whitewash." This reprimand, pronounced in a thundering tone, produced the most unhappy effect upon Father Alexis. His first movement was to raise his eyes and arms toward the arched ceiling where, as if calling the four-and-twenty elders to witness, he exclaimed: "You hear! The profane dare call them daubs, those incomparable frescoes which will carry down the name of Father Alexis to the latest posterity!" But in the heart of the poor priest terror soon succeeded to indignation. He dropped his arms, and bending down, sunk his head between his shoulders, and tried to make himself as small as possible; much as a frightened turtle draws himself into his shell, and fears that even there he is taking up too much room. "Well! what are these grimaces for? Do you mean to make us wait until to-morrow for your benediction?" The Count pronounced these words in the rude tone of a corporal ordering recruits to march in double-quick time. Father Alexis made a bound as if he had received a sharp blow from a whip across his back, and in his agitation and haste to reach his stool, he struck violently against the corner of a carved sideboard; this terrible shock drew from him a cry of pain, but did not arrest his speed, and rubbing his hip, he threw himself into his place and, without giving himself time to recover breath, he mumbled in a nasal tone and in an unintelligible voice, a grace which he soon finished, and everybody having made the sign of the cross, dinner was served. "What a strange role religion plays here," thought Gilbert to himself as he carried his spoon to his lips. "They would on no account dine until it had blessed the soup, and at the same time they banish it to the end of the table as a leper whose impure contact they fear." During the first part of the repast, Gilbert's attention was concentrated on Father Alexis. This priestly face excited his curiosity. At first sight it seemed impressed with a certain majesty, which was heightened by the black folds of his robe, and the gold crucifix which hung upon his breast. Father Alexis had a high, open forehead; his large, strongly aquiline nose gave a manly character to his face; his black eyes, finely set, were surmounted by well-curved eyebrows, and his long grizzly beard harmonized very well with his bronzed cheeks furrowed by venerable wrinkles. Seen in repose, this face had a character of austere and imposing beauty. And if you had looked at Father Alexis in his sleep, you would have taken him for a holy anchorite recently come out of the desert, or better still, for a Saint John contemplating with closed eyes upon the height of his Patmos rock, the sublime visions of the Apocalypse; but as soon as the face of the good priest became animated, the charm was broken. It was but an expressive mask, flexible, at times grotesque, where were predicted the fugitive and shallow impressions of a soul gentle, innocent, and easy, but not imaginative or exalted. It was then that the monk and the anchorite suddenly disappeared, and there remained but a child sixty years old, whose countenance, by turns uneasy or smiling, expressed nothing but puerile pre-occupations, or still more puerile content. This transformation was so rapid that it seemed almost like a juggler's trick. You sought St. John, but found him no more, and you were tempted to cry out, "Oh, Father Alexis, what has become of you? The soul now looking out of your face is not yours." This Father Alexis was an excellent man; but unfortunately, he had too decided a taste for the pleasures of the table. He could also be accused of having a strong ingredient of vanity in his character; but his self-love was so ingenuous, that the most severe judge could but pardon it. Father Alexis had succeeded in persuading himself that he was a great artist, and this conviction constituted his happiness. This much at least could be said of him, that he managed his brush and pencil with remarkable dexterity, and could execute four or five square feet of fresco painting in a few hours. The doctrines of Mount Athos, which place he had visited in his youth, had no more secrets for him; Byzantine aesthetics had passed into his flesh and bones; he knew by heart the famous "Guide to Painting," drawn up by the monk Denys and his pupil Cyril of Scio. In short, he was thoroughly acquainted with all the receipts by means of which works of genius are produced, and thus, with the aid of compasses, he painted from inspiration, those good and holy men who strikingly resembled certain figures on gold backgrounds in the convents of Lavra and Iveron. But one thing brought mortification and chagrin to Father Alexis,--Count Kostia Petrovitch refused to believe in his genius! But on the other hand, he was a little consoled by the fact that the good Ivan professed unreserved admiration for his works; so he loved to talk of painting and high art with this pious worshiper of his talents. "Look, my son," he would say to him, extending the thumb, index and middle fingers of his right hand, "thou seest these three fingers: I have only to say a word to them, and from them go forth Saint Georges, Saint Michaels, Saint Nicholases, patriarchs of the old covenant, and apostles of the new, the good Lord himself and all his dear family!" And then he would give him his hand to kiss, which duty the good serf performed with humble veneration. However, if Count Kostia had the barbarous taste to treat the illuminated works of Father Alexis as daubs, he was not cruel enough to prevent him from cultivating his dearly-loved art. He had even lately granted this disciple of the great Panselinos, the founder of the Byzantine school, an unexpected favor, for which the good father promised himself to be eternally grateful. One of the wings of the Castle of Geierfels enclosed a pretty and sufficiently spacious chapel, which the Count had appropriated to the services of the Greek Church, and one fine day, yielding to the repeated solicitations of Father Alexis, he had authorized him to cover the walls and dome with "daubs" after his own fashion. The priest commenced the work immediately. This great enterprise absorbed at least half of his thoughts; he worked many hours every day, and at night he saw in dreams great patriarchs in gold and azure, hanging over him and saying: "Dear Alexis, we commend ourselves to thy good care; let thy genius perpetuate our glory through the Universe." The conversation at length turned upon subjects which the Count amused himself by debating every day with his secretary. They spoke of the Lower Empire, which M. Leminof regarded as the most prosperous and most glorious age of humanity. He had little fancy for Pericles, Caesar, Augustus, and Napoleon, and considered that the art of reigning had been understood by Justinian and Alexis Comnenus alone. And when Gilbert protested warmly in the name of human dignity against this theory: "Stop just there!" said the Count; "no big words, no declamation, but listen to me! These pheasants are good. See how Father Alexis is regaling himself upon them. To whom do they owe this flavor which is so enchanting him? To the high wisdom of my cook, who gave them time to become tender. He has served them to us just at the right moment. A few days sooner they would have been too tough; a few days later would have been risking too much, and we should have had the worms in them. My dear sir, societies are very much like game. Their supreme moment is when they are on the point of decomposition. In their youth they have a barbarous toughness. But a certain degree of corruption, on the contrary, imperils their existence. Very well! Byzantium possessed the art of making minds gamey and arresting decomposition at that point. Unfortunately she carried the secret to the grave with her." A profound silence reigned in the great hall, uninterrupted except by the rhythmic sound of the good father's jaws. Stephane leaned his elbows on the table; his attitude expressive of dreamy melancholy; his head inclined and leaning against the palm of his right hand; his black tunic without any collar exposing a neck of perfect whiteness; his long silky hair falling softly upon his shoulders; the pure and delicate contour of his handsome face; his sensitive mouth, the corners curving slightly upwards, all reminded Gilbert of the portrait of Raphael painted by himself, all, except the expression, which was very different. A profound melancholy filled Gilbert's heart. Nothing about him commanded his sympathies, nothing promised any companionship for his soul; at his left the stern face of a drowsy tyrant, made more sinister by sleep; opposite him a young misanthrope, for the moment lost in clouds; at his right an old epicure who consoled himself for everything by eating figs; above his head the dragons of the Apocalypse. And then this great vaulted hall was cold, sepulchral; he felt as though he were breathing the air of a cellar; the recesses and the corners of the room were obscured by black shadows; the dark wainscotings which covered the walls had a lugubrious aspect; outside were heard ominous noises. A gale of wind had risen and uttered long bellowings like a wounded bull, to which the grating of weathercocks and the dismal cry of the owls responded. When Gilbert had re-entered his own room he opened the window that he might better hear the majestic roll of the river. At the same moment a voice, carried by the wind from the great square tower, cried to him: "Monsieur, the grand vizier, don't forget to burn plenty of candles to the devil! this is the advice which your most faithful subject gives you in return for the profound lessons of wisdom with which you favored his inexperience to-day!" It was thus Gilbert learned Stephane was his neighbor. "It is consoling," thought he, "to know that he can't possibly come in here without wings. And," added he, closing his window, "whatever happens, I did well to write to Mme. Lerins yesterday-- to-day I am not so well satisfied."

an announcement moment-to-moment of your freedom, not your

This is what Gilbert wrote in his journal six weeks after his arrival at Geierfels:

an announcement moment-to-moment of your freedom, not your

A son who has towards his father the sentiments of a slave toward his master; a father who habitually shows towards his son a dislike bordering on hatred--such are the sad subjects for study that I have found here. At first I wished to persuade myself that M. Leminof was simply a cold hard character, a skeptic by disposition, a blase grandee, who believed it a duty to himself to openly testify his scorn for all the humbug of sentiment. He is nothing of the kind. The Count's mind is diseased, his soul tormented, his heart eaten by a secret ulcer and he avenges its sufferings by making others suffer. Yes, the misanthrope seeks vengeance for some deadly affront which has been put upon him by man or by fate; his irony breathes anger and hatred; it conceals deep resentment which breaks out occasionally in his voice, in his look and in his unexpected and violent acts; for he is not always master of himself. At certain times the varnish of cold politeness and icy sportiveness with which he ordinarily conceals his passions, scales off suddenly and falls into dust, and his soul appears in its nakedness. During the first weeks of my residence here he controlled himself in my presence, now I have the honor of possessing his confidence, and he no longer deems it necessary to hide his face from me, nor does he try any longer to deceive me. It is singular, I thought myself entirely master of my glances, but in spite of myself, they betrayed too much curiosity on one occasion. The other day while I was working with him in his study, he suddenly became dreamy and absent, his brow was like a thundercloud; he neither saw nor heard me. When he came out of his reverie his eyes met mine fixed upon his face, and he saw that I was observing him too attentively. "Come now," said he brusquely, "you remember our stipulations; we are two egotists who have made a bargain with each other. Egotists are not curious; the only thing which interests them in the mind of a fellow-creature, is in the domain of utility." And then fearing that he had offended me, he continued in a softer tone: "I am the least interesting soul in the world to know. My nerves are very sensitive, and let me say to you once for all, that this is the secret of all the disorders which you may observe in my poor machine." "No, Count Kostia, this is not your secret!" I was tempted to answer. "It is not your nerves which torment you. I would wager that in despite of your cynicism and skepticism, you have once believed in something, or in some one who has broken faith with you," but I was careful not to let him suspect my conjectures. I believe he would have devoured me. The anger of this man is terrible, and he does not always spare me the sight of it. Yesterday especially, he was transported beyond himself, to such an extent that I blushed for him. Stephane had gone to ride with Ivan. The dinner-bell rang and they had not returned. The Count himself went to the entrance of the court to wait for them. His lips were pale, his voice harsh and grating, veiled by a hoarseness which always comes with his gusts of passion. When the delinquents appeared at the end of the path, he ran to them, and measured Stephane from head to foot with a glance so menacing that the child trembled in every limb; but his anger exploded itself entirely upon Ivan. The poor jailer had, however, good excuses to offer: Stephane's horse had stumbled and cut his knee, and they had been obliged to slacken their pace. The Count appeared to hear nothing. He signed to Ivan to dismount; which having done, he seized him by the collar, tore from him his whip and beat him like a dog. The unhappy serf allowed himself to be whipped without uttering a cry, without making a movement. The idea of flight or self-defense never occurred to him. Riveted to the spot, his eyes closed, he was the living image of slavery resigned to the last outrages. Indeed I believe that during this punishment I suffered more than he. My throat was parched, my blood boiled in my veins. My first impulse was to throw myself upon the Count, but I restrained myself; such a violent interference would but have aggravated the fate of Ivan. I clasped my hands and with a stifled voice cried: "Mercy! mercy!" The Count did not hear me. Then I threw myself between the executioner and his victim. Stupefied, with arm raised and immovable, the Count stared at me with flaming eyes; little by little he became calm, and his face resumed its ordinary expression. "Let it pass for this time," said he at last, in a hollow voice; "but in future meddle no more in my affairs!" Then dropping the whip to the ground, he strode away. Ivan raised his eyes to me full of tears, his glance expressed at once tenderness, gratitude, and admiration. He seized my hands and covered them with kisses, after which he passed his handkerchief over his face, streaming with perspiration, foam, and blood, and taking the two horses by the bridles, quietly led them to the stable. I found the Count at the table; he had recovered his good humor; he discharged several arrows of playful sarcasm at my "heresies" in matters of history. It was not without effort that I answered him, for at this moment he inspired me with an aversion that I could hardly conceal. But I felt bound to recognize the victory which he had gained over himself in abridging Ivan's punishment. After dinner he sent for the serf, who appeared with his forehead and hands furrowed with bloody scars. His lips bore their habitual smile, which was always a mystery to me. His master ordered him to take off his vest, turn down his shirt, and kneel before him; then drawing from his pocket a vial full of some ointment whose virtues he lauded highly, he dressed the wounds of the moujik with his own hands. This operation finished, he said to him: "That will amount to nothing, my son. Go and sin no more." Upon which the serf raised himself and left the room, smiling throughout. Ivan's smile is an exotic plant which I am not acquainted with, and which only grows in Slavonic soil, a strange smile,--real prodigy of baseness or heroism. Which is it? I am sure I cannot tell. In spite of my trouble, I had been able to observe Stephane at the beginning of the punishment. At the first blow, a flash of triumphant joy passed over his face; but when the blood started he became horribly pale, and pressed one of his hands to his throat as if to arrest a cry of horror, and with the other he covered his eyes to shut out the sight; then not being able to contain himself, he hurried away. God be praised! compassion had triumphed in his heart over the joy of seeing his jailer chastised. There is in this young soul, embittered as it is by long sufferings, a fund of generosity and goodness; but will it not in time lose the last vestiges of its native qualities? Three years hence will Stephane cover his eyes to avoid the sight of an enemy's punishment? Within three years will not the habit of suffering have stifled pity in his breast? To-morrow, to-morrow perhaps, will not his heart have uttered its last cry! Since you have no tender words for him, Count Kostia, would that I could close his ears to the desolating lessons that you give him! Do you not see that the life he leads is enough to teach him to hate men and life, without the necessity of your interference? He knows nothing of humanity, but what he sees through the bars of his prison; and imagines that there is nothing in the world but capricious tyrants and trembling, degraded slaves. Why thus kill in his heart every germ of enthusiasm, of hope, of manly and generous faith? But may not Stephane be a vicious child, whose perverse instincts a justly provoked father seeks to curb by a pitiless discipline? No, a thousand times no! It is false, it is impossible; it is only necessary to look at him to be satisfied of this. His face is often hard, cold, scornful; but it never expresses a low thought, a pollution of soul, or a precocious corruption of mind. In his quiet moods there is upon his brow a stamp of infantile purity. I was wrong in supposing that his soul had lost its youth. Alas! with what cruel harshness they dispute the little pleasures which remain to him. In spite of his jests over the periwinkles, he has a taste for flowers, and had obtained from the gardener the concession of a little plot of ground to cultivate according to his fancy. The Count, it appears, had ratified this favor; but this unheard-of condescension proved to be but a refinement of cruelty. For some time, every evening after dinner, Stephane passed an hour in his little parterre; he plucked out the weeds, planted, watered, and watched with a paternal eye the growth of his favorites. Yesterday, an hour after the sanguinary castigation, while his father was dressing Ivan's wounds, he had gone out on tiptoe. Some minutes after, as I was walking upon the terrace, I saw him occupied. with absorbing gravity, in this great work of watering. I was but a few paces from him, when the gardener approached, pickax in hand, and, without a word, struck it violently into the middle of a tuft of verbenas which grew at one end of the plot of ground. Stephane raised himself briskly, and, believing him stupid, threw himself upon him, crying out: "Wretch, what are you doing there?" "I am doing what his excellency ordered me to," answered the gardener. At this moment the Count strolled toward us, his hands in his pockets, humming an aria, and an expression of amiable good humor on his face. Stephane extended his arms towards him, but one of those looks which always petrifies him kept him silent and motionless in the middle of the pathway. He watched with wild eyes the fatal pickax ravage by degrees his beloved garden. In vain he tried to disguise his despair; his legs trembled and his heart throbbed violently. He fixed his large eyes upon his dear, devastated treasures; two great tears escaped them and rolled slowly down his cheeks. But when the instrument of destruction approached a magnificent carnation, the finest ornament of his garden, his heart failed him, he uttered a piercing cry, and raising his hands to Heaven, ran away sobbing. The Count looked after him as he fled, and an atrocious smile passed over his lips! Ah! if this father does not hate his son, I know not what hatred is, nor how it depicts itself upon a human face. Meantime I threw myself between the carnation and the pickax, as an hour before between the knout and Ivan. Stephane's despair had rent my heart; I wished at any cost to preserve this flower which was so dear to him. The face of Kostia Petrovitch took all hope from me. It seemed to say: "You still indulge in sentiment; this is a little too much of it." "This plant is beautiful," I said to him; "why destroy it?" "Ah! you love flowers, my dear Gilbert;" answered he, with an air of diabolical malice. "I am truly glad of it!" And turning to the gardener, he added: "You will carefully take up all these flowers and place them in pots--they shall decorate Monsieur's room. I am delighted to have it in my power to do him this little favor." Thus speaking, he rubbed his hands gleefully, and turning his back upon me, commenced humming his tune again. He was evidently satisfied with his day's work. And now Stephane's flowers are here under my eyes, they have become my property. Oh! if he knew it! I do not doubt that M. Leminof wishes his son to hate me; and his wish is gratified. Overwhelmed with respect and attentions, petted, praised, extolled, treated as a favorite and grand vizier, how can I be otherwise than an object of scorn and aversion to this young man? But could he read my heart! what would he read there, after all? An impotent pity from which his pride would revolt. I can do nothing for him; I could not mitigate his misfortunes or pour balm into his wounds. Go, then, Gilbert, occupy yourself with the Byzantines! Remember your contract, Gilbert! The master of this house has made you promise not to meddle in his affairs. Translate Greek, my friend, and, in your leisure moments, amuse yourself with your puppets. Beyond that, closed eyes and sealed mouth; that must be your motto. But do you say, "I shall become a wretch in seeing this child suffer"? Well! if your useless pity proves too much of a burden, six months hence you can break your bonds, resume your liberty, and with three hundred crowns in your pocket, you can undertake that journey to Italy,--object of your secret dreams and most ardent longing. Happy man! arming yourself with the white staff of the pilgrim, you will shake the dust of Geierfels from your feet, and go far away to forget, before the facades of Venetian palaces, the dark mysteries of the old Gothic castle and its wicked occupants.

As Gilbert rapidly traced these last lines, the dinner-bell sounded. He descended in haste to the grand hall. They were already at the table. "Tell me, if you please," said Count Kostia, addressing him gayly, "what you think of our new comrade?" Gilbert then noticed a fifth guest, whose face was not absolutely unknown to him. This newly invited individual was seated at the right of Father Alexis, who seemed to relish his society but little, and was no less a personage than Solon, the favorite of the master, one of those apes which are vulgarly called "monkeys in mourning," with black hair, but with face, hands, and feet of a reddish brown. "You will not be vexed with me for inviting Solon to dine with us?" continued M. Leminof. "The poor beast has been hypochondriacal for several days, and I am glad to procure this little distraction for him. I hope it will dissipate it. I cannot bear melancholy faces; hypochondria is the fate of fools who have no mental resources." He pronounced these last words half turning towards Stephane. The young man's face was more gloomy than ever. His eyes were swollen, and dark circles surrounded them. The indignation with which the brutal remark of his father filled him, gave him strength to recover from his dejection. He resolutely set about eating his soup, which he had not touched before, and feeling that Gilbert's eyes were fixed upon him, he raised his head quickly and darted upon him a withering glance. Gilbert thought he divined that he called him to account for his carnation, and could not help blushing,--so true is it that innocence does not suffice to secure one a clear conscience. "Frankly, now," resumed the Count, lowering his voice, "don't you see some resemblance between the two persons who adorn the lower end of this table?" "The resemblance does not strike me," answered Gilbert coldly. "Ah! mon Dieu, I do not mean to say that they are identical in all points. I readily grant that Father Alexis uses his thumbs better; I admit, too, that he has a grain or two more of phosphorus in his brain, for you know the savants of to-day, at their own risk and peril, have discovered that the human mind is nothing but a phosphoric tinder-box." "It is these same savants," said Gilbert, "who consider genius a nervous disorder. Much good may it do them. They are not my men." "You treat science lightly; but answer my question seriously: do you not discover certain analogies between these two personages in black clothes and red faces?" "My opinion," interrupted Gilbert impatiently, "is that Solon is very ugly, and that Father Alexis is very handsome." "Your answer embarrasses me," retorted the Count, "and I don't know whether I ought to thank you for the compliment you pay my priest, or be angry at the hard things you say of my monkey. One thing is certain," added he, "that my monkey and my priest,--I'm wrong,--my priest and my monkey, resemble each other in one respect: they have both a passionate appetite for truffles. You will soon see." They were just serving fowl with truffles. Solon devoured his portion in the twinkling of an eye, and as he was prone to coveting the property of others, he fixed his eyes, full of affectionate longing, on his neighbor's plate. Active, adroit, and watching his opportunity, he seized the moment when the priest was carrying his glass to his lips; to extend his paw, seize a truffle, and swallow it, was the work of but half a second. Beside himself with indignation, the holy man turned quickly and looked at the robber with flashing eyes. The monkey was but little affected by his anger, and to celebrate the happy success of his roguery, he capered and frisked in a ridiculous and frantic way, clinging with his forepaws to the back of his chair. The good father shook his head sadly, moved his plate further off, and returned to his eating, not, however, without watching the movements of the enemy from the corner of his eye. In vain he kept guard; in spite of his precautions,--a new attack, a new larceny--and fresh caperings of joy by the monkey. Father Alexis at last lost patience, and the monkey received a vigorous blow full in the muzzle, which drew from him a sharp shriek; but at the same instant the priest felt two rows of teeth bury themselves in his left cheek. He could hardly repress a cry, and gave up the game, leaving Solon to gorge himself to his beard in the spoils, while he busied himself in stanching his wound, from which the blood gushed freely. The Count affected to be ignorant of all that passed; but there was a merry sparkle in his eyes which testified that not a detail of this tragic comedy had escaped his notice. "You appear to distrust Solon, Father," said he, seeing that the priest pushed back his chair and kept at a distance from the baboon. "You are wrong. He has very sweet manners; he is incapable of a bad action. He is only a little sad now, but in his melancholy, he observes all the rules of good breeding; which is not the case with all melancholy people," added he, throwing a look at Stephane, who, taken with a sudden access of sadness, had just leaned his elbow upon the table and made a screen of his right hand to hide his tears from his father. Gilbert felt himself near stifling, and as soon as he could, left the table. Fortunately no one followed him onto the terrace. Stephane had no more flowers to cultivate, and went to shut himself up in his high tower. On his part, Father Alexis went to dress his wound; as to M. Leminof, he was displeased with the cool and, as he thought, composed air with which Gilbert had listened to his pleasantries, and he retired to his study, promising himself to give to Monsieur his secretary, whom, nevertheless, he valued very highly, that last touch of pliancy which he needed for his perfection. Count Kostia was of an age when even the strongest mind feels the necessity of occasional relaxation, and he would have been glad to have near him a pliant, agreeable companion, and enchanted could that companion have been his secretary. Gilbert strode across the terrace, and, leaning over the parapet, gazed long and silently at the highroad. "Ten months yet!" said he to himself, and contracting his brows, he turned to look at the odious castle, where destiny had cast his lot. It seemed as if the old pile wished to avenge itself for his ill humor: never had it been clothed with such a smiling aspect. A ray of the setting sun rested obliquely upon its wide roof; the bricks had the warm color of amber, the highest points were bathed in gold dust, and the gables and vanes threw out sparks. The air was balmy; the lilacs, the citron, the jasmine, and the honeysuckle intermingled their perfumes, which the almost imperceptible breath of the north wind spread in little waves to the four corners of the terrace. And these wandering perfumes mingled themselves, in passing, with other odors more delicate and more subtle; from each leaf, each petal, each blade of grass, exhaled secret aromas, mute words which the plants exchange with each other, and which revealed to Gilbert's heart the great mystery of happiness which animates the soul of things. Gilbert was determined to drown his sorrows this evening in the divine harmonies of nature. To succeed the better, he called poetry to his aid, for the great poets are the eternal mediators between the soul of things and our feeble hearts of earth and clay. He recited the distichs where Goethe has related in a tongue worthy of Homer or Lucretius the metamorphosis of the plants. This was placed like a preamble at the beginning of the volume which he carried with him in his walks, and he had learned it by heart a few days before. The better to penetrate the sense of these admirable lines, he tried to translate them into French alexandrines, which he sometimes composed. This effort at translation soon appeared to him beyond his abilities; all the French words seemed too noisy, too brilliant or too vulgar, or too solemn to render these mute accents, these intonations veiled as if in religious mystery, by which the author of Faust intended to express the subtle sounds and even the silence of nature. We know that it is only in German poetry that we can hear the grass growing from the bosom of the earth, and the celestial spheres revolving in space. Every language has its pedals and its peculiar registers; the Teutonic muse alone can execute these solemn airs which must be played with the soft pedal. For more than an hour Gilbert exhausted himself in vain attempts, and at last, disheartened, he contented himself with reciting aloud the poem which he despaired of translating. He uttered the first part with the fire of enthusiasm; but his voice fell as he pronounced the following passage: "Every flower, my beloved, speaks to thee in a voice distinct and clear; every plant announces to thee plainly the eternal laws of life; but these sacred hieroglyphics of the goddess which thou decipherest upon their perfumed foreheads, thou wilt find everywhere hidden under other emblems. Let the caterpillar drag itself creeping along, and soon the light butterfly darts rapidly through the air; and let man also, with his power of self- development, follow the circle of his soul's metamorphoses. Oh! then wilt thou remember that the bond which united our spirits was first a germ from which sprang in time a sweet and charming acquaintance; friendship in its turn soon revealed its power in our hearts, until love came at last, crowning it with flowers and fruits." At this place a light cloud of sadness passed over Gilbert's face; he felt a secret dissatisfaction at meeting in the verses of his favorite poet a passage which he could not apply to his own experience. Meanwhile, night had come, a night like a softened and refreshed day. The radiant moon shone in the zenith; she inundated the fields of heaven with soft whiteness, she shook her torch over the Rhine, and made the crests of its restless waves scintillate; she poured over the tops of the trees a rain of silvery light; she suspended from their branches necklaces of sapphires and azure diamonds, which the breeze in passing sportively dashed together. The great slumbering woods thrilled at the touch of this dew of light which bathed their lofty brows; they felt something divine insinuating itself in the horror of their somber recesses. From time to time a nightingale gave to the wind a few notes sonorous and sustained; it seemed the voice of the forest, speaking in its sleep,--its soul, carried away in ecstasy, exhaling its intoxication in a long sigh of love. Gilbert had been sitting up very late recently, since he had decided to remain but a short time at Geierfels, and he had grown pale over the Byzantines, in the hope of advancing in his task so much, that Count Kostia would more easily consent to his departure. Robust as was his constitution, he finished by tiring himself out, and nature claiming its rights, sleep seized him at the moment when he was about leaving the bank to seek his room, and have a little nocturnal chat with Agathias and Procopius. When he awoke, the moon had already declined towards the horizon, which discovery surprised him greatly, as he thought he had slept but a few moments. He rose and shook his limbs, stiff from the dampness. Fortunately, he was the only one at Geierfels who had free ingress and egress; the turret which he inhabited communicated with the terrace by a private staircase, to the entrance of which he had the key. Fortunately, too, the bulldogs had learned to know him, and never dreamed of disturbing his movements. He gained the little door without any difficulty, opened it, and having lit a candle which he drew from his pocket, commenced cautiously to ascend the winding staircase, the steps of which were broken in many places. He had just reached the first landing where terminated the spacious corridor, which extended along the principal facade parallel with the terrace, and was preparing to cross it, when he heard a long and painful groan, which seemed to come from the other end of the gallery. Starting, he remained motionless some moments, with neck extended and ears alert, peering into the obscurity from whence he expected to see some melancholy phantom emerge; but almost immediately a gust of wind driving through the broken square of a dormer window made it grind upon its hinges and give out a plaintive sound, which reverberated through the corridor. Gilbert then fancied that what he had taken for a sigh was only the moaning of the wind, counterfeiting in its melancholy gambols the voice of human grief. Resuming his ascent, he had already mounted some steps, when a second groan, still more dismal than the first, reached his ears, and froze the blood in his veins. He was sure he could not be deceived now; the wind had no such accents--it was a wail, sharp, harsh, and heartrending, which seemed as though it might come from the bosom of a specter. A thousand sinister suppositions assailed Gilbert's mind, but he gave himself no time to reflect. Agitated, panting, his head on fire, he sprang with one bound down the staircase, and reaching the entrance of the gallery, cried out in a trembling voice, and scarcely knowing what he said: "Who's there? Who wants assistance? I, Gilbert, am ready to come to his aid--" His voice was swallowed up and lost in the somber arches of the corridor. No answer; the darkness remained dumb. In the rapidity of his movement, Gilbert had extinguished his candle; he prepared to relight it, when a hat flew by and struck his forehead with his wings. The start which this unforeseen attack gave him made him drop the candle; he stooped to pick it up, but could not find it. In spite of this accident, he walked on. A feeble ray of moonlight, which came in by the dormer window and shed through the entrance of the corridor a long thread of bluish light, seemed to guide him a few steps. Then he groped his way with arms extended and touching the wall. Every few steps he stopped and listened, and repeated in a voice hoarse with excitement: "Who's there? You who are moaning, can I do anything to help you?" Nothing answered him except the beating of his heart, and the murmur of the wind, which continued to torment the hinges of the dormer window. The gallery into which Gilbert had entered was divided halfway in its length by two steps, at the bottom of which was a large iron door, always kept open during the day, but closed and double-locked as night set in. Approaching this, Gilbert saw a feeble light glimmering beneath the door. He descended the steps, and looking through the key-hole, from which the key had been withdrawn, saw what changed the frightful anguish he had just been suffering into surprise and terror. At twenty paces from him he saw the appalling figure of a phantom standing erect; it was enveloped in a large white cloth wound several times round its body, passing under its left arm, and falling over the right shoulder. In one hand it held a torch and a sword, in the other an oval ebony frame of which Gilbert could only see the back, but which seemed to inclose a portrait. The face of this specter was emaciated, drawn, and of unusual length; its skin, withered and dry, seemed to be incrusted upon its bones, its complexion was sallow; a profuse perspiration trickled from its brows and glued the hair to its temples. Nothing could describe the expression of terror in its face. It seemed to Gilbert that its two burning eyeballs penetrated even through the door, though they saw nothing which surrounded them; their vision seemed turned within, and the invisible object which fastened their gaze, a heart haunted by specters. Suddenly the lips of this nocturnal wanderer opened, and another groan more fearful than the first issued from them. It seemed as if his burdened breast wished to shake off by a violent effort a mountain of weariness, the weight of which was crushing it, or rather as though the soul sought to expel itself in this despairing cry. Gilbert was seized with inexpressible agitation, his hair stood on end. He started to fly; but a curiosity stronger than his terror prevented him from leaving the spot and kept him riveted to the door. By the eyebrows and cheekbones, in spite of the distortion of the face, he had recognized Count Kostia. At length this sinister somnambulist stirred from his motionless position and advanced at a slow pace; he walked like an automaton. After taking a dozen steps he stopped, looked around him, and slightly bent forward. His strained features resumed their natural proportions, life re-animated his brow, the deathlike inertia of his face gave place to an expression of sadness and prostration. For a few seconds his lips moved, without saying a word, as if to become flexible, and fashioned anew to the use of speech:--then, in a soft voice which Gilbert did not recognize, and with the plaintive accents of a suffering child, he murmured: "How heavy this portrait is! I can carry it no longer; take it out of my hands, it burns them. In mercy, extinguish this fire. I have a brand in my breast. It must be kept covered with ashes; when I can see it no more, I shall suffer less. It is my eyes that make me suffer; if I were blind, I could return to Moscow." Then in a harsher voice: "I could easily destroy this likeness, but THE OTHER, I cannot kill it, curses on me! it is the better portrait of the two. There is her hair, her mouth, her smile. Ah, thank God, I have killed the smile. The smile is no longer there. I have buried the smile. But there is the mole in the corner of the mouth. I have kissed it a thousand times; take away that mole, it hurts me. If that mole were gone I should suffer less. Merciful Heaven! it is always there. But I have buried the smile. The smile is no more. I have buried it deep in a leaden coffin. It can't come. . . ." Then suddenly changing his accent, and in a tragical, but bitter voice, his eyes fixed upon the large rusty sword which he held in his right hand, he muttered: "The spot will not go away. The iron will not drink it. It was not for this blood it thirsted. I shall find it in the other, it will drink that. Ah! we shall see how it will drink it." Upon this, he relapsed into silence and appeared to be thinking deeply. Then raising his head, he cried in a voice so strong and vibrating that the iron door trembled upon its hinges: "Morlof, then it was not thou! Ah! my dear friend, I was deceived. . . . Go, do not regret life. It is only the dream of a screech-owl. . . . Believe me, friend, I want to die, but I cannot. I must know . . . I must discover. Ah! Morlof, Morlof, leave thy hands in mine, or I shall think thou hast not forgiven me. . . . God! how cold these hands are . . . cold . . . cold . . ." And at these words he shuddered; his head moved convulsively upon his shoulders, and his teeth chattered; but soon calming himself, he murmured: "I want to know the name, I must know that name! Is there no one who can tell me that name?" Thus speaking, he raised the picture to a level with his face, and with bent head and extended neck, appeared to be trying to decipher upon the canvas some microscopic writing or obscure hieroglyphics. "The name is there!" said he. "It is written somewhere about the heart,--at the bottom of the heart; but I cannot read it, the writing is so fine, it is a female hand; I do not know how to read a woman's writing. They have a cipher of which Satan alone has the key. My sight is failing me. I have flies in my head. There is always one of them that hides this name from me. Oh! in mercy, in pity, take away the fly and bring me a pair of pincers. . . . With good pincers I will seek that name even in the last fibers of this heart which beats no more." He added with a terrible air: The dead do not open their teeth. The one who lives will speak. You shall see how I will make him speak. You shall see how I will make him speak. . . . Tear off his black robe, stretch him on this plank. The iron boots! the iron boots! tighten the boots!" Then interrupting himself abruptly, he raised his eyes and fixed them upon the door. An expression of fury mingled with terror swept over his face, as if he had suddenly perceived some hideous and alarming object. His features became distorted; his mouth worked convulsively and frothed; his eyes, unnaturally dilated, darted flames; he uttered a hollow moan, took a few steps backward, and suddenly dropping his torch to the ground, where it went out he cried in a frightful voice: "There are eyes behind the door! there are eyes! there are eyes!" Horror-struck, distracted, beside himself, Gilbert turned and took to flight. In spite of the darkness, he found his way as if by miracle. He crossed the corridor at a run, mounted the staircase in three bounds, dashed into his chamber and bolted the door. Then he hurriedly lighted a candle, and having glanced about to assure himself that the phantom had not followed him into his room, dropped heavily upon a chair, stunned and breathless. In a few moments he had collected his thoughts, and was ashamed of his terror; but in spite of himself his agitation was such that at every noise which struck his ear, he thought he heard the step of Count Kostia ascending the staircase of his turret. It was not until he had bathed his burning head in cold water that he recovered something like tranquillity; and determining by a supreme effort to banish the frightful images which haunted him, he seated himself at his worktable and resolutely opened one of the Byzantine folios. As he began to read, his eye fell upon an unsealed letter which had been left on his table during his absence; it ran thus:

"Man of great phrases, I write to you to inform you of the hatred with which you inspire me. I wish you to understand that from the first day I saw you, your bearing, your face, your manners, your whole person, have been objects of distrust and aversion to me. I thought I recognized an enemy in you, and the result has proved that I was not mistaken. Now I hate you, and I tell you so frankly, for I am not a hypocrite, and I want you to know, that just now in my prayers I supplicated St. George to give me an opportunity of revenging myself upon you. What do you want in this house? What is there between us and you? How long do you intend to torture me with your odious presence, your ironical smiles, and your insulting glances? Before your arrival I was not completely unhappy. God be praised, it has been reserved for you to give me the finishing stroke. Before, I could weep at my ease, with none to busy themselves in counting my tears; the man that makes me shed them does not lower himself to such petty calculations; he has confidence in me, he knows that at the end of the year the account will be there; but you! you watch me, you pry into me, you study me. I see very well that, while you are looking at me, you are indulging in little dialogues with yourself, and these little dialogues are insupportable to me. Mark me now, I forbid you to understand me. It is an affront which you have no right to put upon me, and I have the right to be incomprehensible if it pleases me. Ah! once a little while ago, I felt that you had your eyes fastened on me again. And then I raised my head, and looked at you steadily and forced you to blush. . . . Yes, you did blush; do not attempt to deny it! What a consolation to me! What a triumph! Alas! for all that, I dare not go to my own window any longer for fear of seeing you ogling the sky, and making declamations of love to nature with your sentimental air. "Tell me, now, in a few words, clever man that you are, how you manage to combine so much sentimentality with such skillful diplomacy? Tender friend of childhood, of virtue and of sunsets, what an adroit courtier you make! From the first day you came here, the master honored you with his confidence and his affection. How he esteems you! how he cherishes you! what attentions! what favors! Will he not order us tomorrow to kiss the dust under your feet? If you want to know what disgusts me the most in you, it is the unalterable placidity of your disposition and your face. You know the faun who admires himself night and day in the basin upon the terrace; he is always laughing and looks at himself laugh. I detest this eternal laughter from the bottom of my soul, as I detest you, as I detest the whole world with the exception of my horse Soliman. But he, at least, is sincere in his gayety; he shows himself what he really is, life amuses him, great good may it do him! But you envelop your beatific happiness in an intolerable gravity. Your tranquil airs fill me with consternation; your great contented eyes seem to say: 'I am very well, so much the worse for the sick!' One word more. You treat me as a child--I will prove to you that I am not a child, showing you how well I have divined you. The secret of your being is, that you were born without passions! Confess honestly that you have never in your life felt a sentiment of disgust, of anger, or of pity. Is there a single passion, tell me, that you have experienced, or that you are acquainted with, except through your books? Your soul is like your cravat, which is always tied precisely the same way, and has such an air of repose and rationality about it, that it is perfectly insufferable to me. Yes, the bow of that cravat exasperates me; the two ends are always exactly the same length, and have an effect of INDERANGEABILITY which nearly drives me mad. Not that this famous bow is elegant. No, a thousand times no! but it has an exasperating accuracy. And in this, behold the true story of your soul. Every night when you go to bed you put it in its proper folds; every morning you unfold it carefully without rumpling it! And you dare to plume yourself on your wisdom! What does this pretended wisdom prove? Nothing, unless it be that you have poor blood, and that you were fifty years old when you were born. There is, however, one passion which no one will deny that you possess. You understand me,--man of the gilded tongue and the viper's heart,--you have a passion common to many others! But, hold, in commencing this letter, I intended to conceal from you that I had discovered everything. I feared it would give you too much pleasure to learn that I know.--Oh! why can't I make you stand before me now this moment! I should confound you! how I would force you to fall at my feet and cry for pardon! "Oh, my dear flowers, my Maltese cross, my verbenas, my white starred fox, and you, my musk rosebush, and above all my beautiful variegated carnation, which ought to be opening to-day! Was it then for him,--was it to rejoice the eyes of this insolent parasite, that I planted, watered, and tended you with so much care? Beloved flowers, will you not share my hate? Send out from each of your cups, from each of your corollas, some devouring insect, some wasp with pointed sting, some furious horse-fly, and let them all together throw themselves upon him, harass him and persecute him with their threatening buzzing, and pierce his face with their poisoned stings. And you yourselves, my cherished daughters, at his approach, fold up your beautiful petals, refuse him your perfumes, cheat him of his cares and hopes, let the sap dry up in your fibers, that he may have the mortification of seeing you perish and fall to dust in his hands. And may he, this treacherous man, may he before your blighted petals and drooping stems, pine away himself with ennui, spite, anger, and remorse!"

The castle clock had struck eight, when Gilbert sprang from his bed. Shall I confess that in dressing himself, when he came to tie his cravat, he hesitated for a moment? However, after reflection, he adjusted the knot as before, and would you believe it, he tied this famous, this regular knot without concentrating any attention upon it? His toilet finished, he went to the window. A sudden change had taken place in the weather; a cold, drizzly rain was falling noiselessly; very little wind; the horizon was enveloped in a thick fog; a long train of low clouds, looking like gigantic fish, floated slowly through the valley of the Rhine; the sky of a uniform gray, seemed to distill weariness and sadness; land and water were the color of mud. Gilbert cast his eyes upon his dear precipice: it was but a pit of frightful ugliness. He sank into an armchair. His thoughts harmonized with the weather; they formed a dismal landscape, over which a long procession of gloomy fancies and sinister apprehensions swept silently, like the trail of low clouds which wandered along the borders of the Rhine. "No, a thousand times no!" mused he, "I can't stay in this place any longer; I shall lose my strength here, and my spirit and my health, too. To be exposed to the blind hatred of an unhappy child whose sorrows drive him to insanity; to be the table companion of a priest without dignity or moral elevation, who silently swallows the greatest outrages; to become the intimate, the complaisant friend of a great lord, whose past is suspicious, of an unnatural father who hates his son, of a man who at times transforms himself into a specter, and who, stung by remorse, or thirsting for revenge, fills the corridors of his castle with savage howlings-- such a position is intolerable, and I must leave here at any cost! This castle is an unhealthy place; the walls are odious to me! I will not wait to penetrate into their secrets any further." And Gilbert ransacked his brain for a pretext to quit Geierfels immediately. While engaged in this research, some one knocked at the door: it was Fritz, with his breakfast. This morning he had the self-satisfied air of a fool who has worked out a folly by the sweat of his brow, and reached the fortunate moment when he can bring his invention to light. He entered without salutation, placed the tray which he carried upon the table; then, turning to Gilbert, who was seated, said to him, winking his eye: "Good-morning, comrade! Comrade, good-morning!" "What do you say?" said Gilbert, astonished, and looking at him steadily. "I say: Good-morning, comrade!" replied he, smiling agreeably. "And to whom are you speaking, if you please?" "I am speaking to you, yourself, my comrade, and I say to you, good-morning, comrade! good-morning." Gilbert looked at him attentively, trying to find some explanation of this strange prank, and this excessive and astounding insolence. "And will you tell me," he continued, after a few moments' silence, "will you be good enough to tell me, who gave you permission to call me comrade?" "It was . . . it was . . ." answered Fritz, hemming and hawing. And he reflected a moment, as though trying to remember his lesson, that he might not stumble in its recital. "Ah!" resumed he, "it was simply his Excellency the Count, and I cannot conceive what you see astonishing in it." "Have you ever heard the Count," demanded Gilbert, who felt the blood boiling in his veins, "call me your comrade?" "Ah! certainly!" he answered with a long burst of laughter. "Every day, when I come from him, M. le Comte says to me: 'Well! how is your comrade Gilbert?' And isn't it very natural? Don't we eat at the same rack? Are we not, both of us, in the service of the same master? And don't you see. . . ." He was not able to say more, for Gilbert bounded from his chair, and crying: "Go and tell your master that he is not my master!" He seized the valet de chambre by the collar. He was at least a head shorter than his adversary, but his grasp was like iron; and in spite of appearances, great Fritz proved but a weak and nerveless body, and greatly surprised at this unexpected attack, he could only open his large mouth and utter some inarticulate sounds. Gilbert had already dragged him to the top of the staircase. Then Fritz, recovering from his first flurry, tried to struggle, but he lost his footing, stumbled, and fell headlong down the staircase to the bottom. Gilbert came near following him in his descent, but fortunately saved himself by clinging to the balustrade. As he saw him rolling, he feared that he had been too violent, but felt reassured, when he saw him scramble up, feel himself, rub his back, turn to shake his fist and limp away. He returned to his chamber and breakfasted peaceably. "Quite an opportune adventure," thought he. "Now, I shall be inflexible, unyielding, and if my trunks are not packed before night, I'm an idiot." Gathering up under his arm a bundle of papers which were needed for the day's work, he left the room, his head erect and his spirits animated; but he had hardly descended the first flight of steps before his exaltation gave way to very different feelings. He could not look without shuddering at the place where he had stood like one petrified, listening to the horrible groans of the somnambulist. He stopped, and, looking at the packet which he held under his arm, thought to himself that it was with a specter he was about to discuss Byzantine history. Then resuming his walk, he arrived at M. Leminof's study, where he almost expected to see the formidable apparition of last night appear before his eyes, and hear a sepuchral voice crying out to him: "Those eyes behind the door were yours!" He remained motionless a few seconds, his hand upon his heart. At last he knocked. A voice cried: "Come in. He opened the door and entered. Heavens! how far was the reality from his fancy. M. Leminof was quietly seated in the embrasure of the window, looking at the rain and playing with his monkey. He no sooner perceived his secretary than he uttered an exclamation of joy, and after shutting up Solon in an adjoining room, he approached Gilbert, took both his hands in his and pressed them cordially, saying in an affectionate tone: "Welcome, my dear Gilbert, I have been looking for you impatiently. I have been thinking a great deal since yesterday on our famous problem of the Slavonic invasions, and I am far from being convinced by your arguments. Be on your guard, my dear sir! Be on your guard! I propose to give you some thrusts that will trouble you to parry." Gilbert, who had recovered his tranquillity, seated himself, and the discussion commenced. The point in dispute was the question of the degree of importance and influence of the establishment of the Slavonians in the Byzantine empire during the middle ages. Upon this question, much debated at present, Count Kostia had espoused the opinion most favorable to the ambitions of Muscovite policy. He affected to renounce his country and to censure it without mercy; he had even denationalized himself to the extent of never speaking his mother tongue and of forbidding its use in his house. In fact, the idiom of Voltaire was more familiar to him than that of Karamzin, and he had accustomed himself for a long time even to think in French. In spite of all this, and of whatever he might say, he remained Russian at heart: this is a quality which cannot be lost. Twelve o'clock sounded while they were at the height of the discussion. "If you agree, my dear Gilbert," said M. Leminof, "we will give ourselves a little relaxation. Indeed you're truly a terrible fellow; there's no persuading you. Let us breakfast in peace, if you please, like two good friends; afterwards we will renew the fight." The breakfast was invariably composed of toast au caviar and a small glass of Madeira wine; and every day at noon they suspended work for a few moments to partake of this little collation. "Judge of my presumption," suddenly said M. Leminof, underscoring, so to speak, every word, "I passed LAST NIGHT [and he put a wide space between these two words] in pleading against you the cause of my Slavonians. My arguments seemed to me irresistible. I beat you all hollow. I am like those fencers who are admirable in the training school, but who make a very bad figure in the field. I had prodigious eloquence LAST NIGHT; I don't know what has become of it; it seems to have fled like a phantom at the first crowing of the cock." As he pronounced these words, Count Kostia fixed such piercing eyes on Gilbert, that they seemed to search through to the most remote recesses of his soul. Gilbert sustained the attack with perfect sangfroid. "Ah! sir," replied he coolly, "I don't know how you argue at night; but I assure you by day you're the most formidable logician I know." Gilbert's tranquil air dissipated the suspicion which seemed to weigh upon M. Leminof. "You act," said he gayly, "like those conquerors who exert themselves to console the generals they have beaten, thereby enhancing their real glory; but bah! arms are fickle, and I shall have my revenge at an early day." "I venture to suggest that you do not delay it long," answered Gilbert in a grave tone. "Who knows how much longer I may remain at Geierfels?" These words re-awakened the suspicions of the Count. "What do you mean?" exclaimed he. Whereupon Gilbert related in a firm, distinct tone the morning's adventure. As he advanced in the recital, he became warmer and repeated with an indignant air the remark which Fritz had attributed to the Count, and strongly emphasized his answer: "Go and tell your master that he is not my master." He flattered himself that he would pique the Count; he saw him already raising his head, and speaking in the clouds. He was destined to be mistaken today in all his conjectures. From the first words of his eloquent recital, Count Kostia appeared to be relieved of a pre-occupation which had disturbed him. He had been prepared for something else, and was glad to find himself mistaken. He listened to the rest with an undisturbed air, leaning back in his easy-chair with his eyes fixed on the ceiling. When Gilbert had finished-- "And tell me, pray," said he, without changing his posture, "how did you punish this rascal?" "I took him by the collar," replied Gilbert, "and flung him down head first." "Peste!" exclaimed the Count, raising himself and looking at him with an air of surprise and admiration. "And tell me," resumed he, smiling in his enjoyment, "did this domestic animal perish in his fall?" "He may perhaps have broken his arms or legs. I didn't take the trouble to inquire." M. Leminof rose and folded his arms on his breast. "See now, how liable our judgments are to be led astray, and how full of sense that Russian proverb is which says: 'It takes more than one day to compass a man!' Yesterday you had such a sentimental pathetic air, when I permitted myself to administer a little correction to my serf, that I took you in all simplicity for a philanthropist. I retract it now. You are one of those tyrants who are only moved for the victims of another. Pure professional jealousy! But," continued he, "there is one thing which astonishes me still more, and that is, that you Gilbert, you could for an instant believe--" He checked himself, bent forward towards Gilbert, and looked at him scrutinizingly, making a shade of his two bony hands extended over his enormous eyebrows; then taking him by the arm, he led him to the embrasure of the window, and as if he had made a sudden change in his person which rendered him irrecognizable: "Nothing could be better than your throwing the scoundrel downstairs," said he, "and if he is not quite dead, I shall drive him from here without pity; but that you should have believed that I, Count Leminof-- Oh! it is too much, I dream-- No, you are not the Gilbert that I know, the Gilbert I love, though I conceal it from myself--" And taking him by both hands, he added: "This man was silly enough to tell you that I was your master, and you replied to him with the Mirabeau tone: 'Go and tell your master--' My dear Gilbert, in the name of reason, I ask you to remember that the true is never the opposite of the false; it is another thing, that is all; but to which I add, that in answering as you did, you have cruelly compromised yourself. We should never contradict a fool; it is running the risk of being like him." Gilbert blushed. He did not try to amend anything, but readily changing his tactics, he said, smiling: "I implore you, sir, not to drive this man away. I want him to stay to remind me occasionally that I am liable to lose my senses." But what were his feelings when the Count, having sent for this valet de chambre, said to him: "You have not done this on your own responsibility--you received orders. Who gave them?" Fritz answered, stammering: "Do please forgive me, your excellency! It was M. Stephane who, yesterday evening, made me a present of two Russian crowns on condition that every morning for a week I should say to M. Saville, 'good-morning, comrade.'" A flash of joy shone in the Count's eyes. He turned towards Gilbert, and pressing his hand, said to him: "For this once I thank you cordially for having addressed your complaints to me. The affair is more serious than I had thought. There is a malignant abscess there, which must be lanced once for all." This surgical comparison made Gilbert shudder; he cursed his hasty passion and his stupidity. Why had he not suspected the real culprit? Why was it necessary for him to justify the hatred which Stephane had avowed towards him? "And how happens it, sir," resumed Count Kostia, with less of anger in his tone, "that you have an opportunity of holding secret conversations with my son in the evening? When did you enter his service? Do you not know that you are to receive neither orders, messages, nor communications of any kind from him?" Fritz, who in his heart blessed the admirable invention of lightning rods, explained as well as he could, that the evening before, in going up to his excellency's room, he had met Ivan on the staircase, going down to the grand hall to find a cap which his young master had forgotten. Apparently he had neglected to close the wicket, for Fritz, in going out through the gallery, had found Stephane, who, approaching him stealthily, had given him his little lesson in a mysterious tone, and as Ivan returned at this moment without the cap he said: "Dost thou not see, imbecile, that it's on my head," and he drew the cap from his pocket and proudly put it on his head, while he ran to his rooms laughing. When he had finished his story, Fritz was profuse in his protestations of repentance, servile and tearful; the Count cut him short, declaring to him, that at the request of Gilbert he consented to pardon him; but that at the first complaint brought against him, he would give him but two hours to pack. When he had gone out, M. Leminof pulled another bell which communicated with the room of Ivan, who presently appeared. "Knowest thou, my son," said the Count to him in German, "that thou hast been very negligent for some time? Thy mind fails, thy sight is feeble. Thou art growing old, my poor friend. Thou art like an old bloodhound in his decline, without teeth and without scent, who knows neither how to hunt the prey nor how to catch it. Thou must be on the retired list. I have already thought of the office I shall give thee in exchange. . . . Oh! do not deceive thyself. It is in vain to shrug thy shoulders, my son; thou art wrong in believing thyself necessary. By paying well I shall easily find one who will be worth as much--" Ivan's eyes flashed. "I do not believe you," replied he, in Russian; "you know very well that you are not amiable, but that I love you in spite of it, and when you have spent a hundred thousand roubles, you will not have secured one to replace me, whose affection for you will be worth a kopeck." "Why dost thou speak Russian?" resumed the Count. "Thou knowest well that I have forbidden it. Apparently thou wishest that no one but myself may understand the sweet things which thou sayest to me. Go and cry them upon the roof, if that will give thee pleasure; but I have never asked thee to love me. I exact only faithful service on thy part, and I answer for it that thy substitute, when his young master shall tell him 'go and find my cap, which I have left in the grand hall,' will answer him coolly: 'I am not blind, my little father, your cap is in your pocket.'" Ivan looked at his master attentively, and the expression of his face appeared to reassure him, for he began to smile. "Meantime," said the Count, "so long as I keep thee in thy office, study to satisfy me. Go to thy room and reflect, and at the end of a quarter of an hour, bring thy little father here to me; I want to talk with him, and I will permit thee to listen, if that will give thee pleasure." As soon as Ivan had gone, Gilbert begged M. Leminof not to pursue this miserable business. "I have punished Fritz," said he, "with perhaps undue severity; you yourself have rebuked and threatened him; I am satisfied." "Pardon me. In all this Fritz was but an instrument. It would not be right to allow the real culprit to go unpunished!" "It is no trouble to me to pardon that culprit," exclaimed Gilbert, with an animation beyond his control, "he is so unhappy!" M. Leminof gave Gilbert a haughty and angry look. He strode through the room several times, his hands behind his back; then, with the easy tempered air of an absolute prince, who condescends to some unreasonable fancy of one of his favorites, made Gilbert sit down, and placing himself by his side: "My dear sir," said he to him, "your last words show a singular forgetfulness on your part of our reciprocal agreements. You had engaged, if you remember, not to take any interest in any one here but yourself and myself. After that, what difference can it make to you, whether my son is happy or unhappy? Since, however, you have raised this question, I consent to an explanation; but let it be fully understood, that you are never, never, to revive the subject again. You can readily perceive, that if your society is agreeable to me, it is because I have the pleasure of forgetting with you the petty annoyances of domestic life. And now speak frankly, and tell me what makes you conclude that my son is unhappy." Gilbert had a thousand things to reply, but they were difficult to say. So he hesitated to answer for a moment, and the Count anticipated him: "Mon Dieu! I must needs proceed in advance of your accusations, a concession which I dare to hope you will appreciate. Perhaps you reproach me with not showing sufficient affection for my son in daily life. But what can you expect? The Leminofs are not affectionate. I don't remember ever to have received a single caress from my father. I have seen him sometimes pat his hounds, or give sugar to his horse; but I assure you that I never partook of his sweetmeats or his smiles, and at this hour I thank him for it. The education which he gave me hardened the affections, and it is the best service which a father can render his son. Life is a hard stepmother, my dear Gilbert; how many smiles have you seen pass over her brazen lips! Besides, I have particular reasons for not treating Stephane with too much tenderness. He seems to you to be unhappy, he will be so forever if I do not strive to discipline his inclinations and to break his intractable disposition. The child was born under an evil star. At once feeble and violent, he unites with very ardent passions a deplorable puerility of mind; incapable of serious thought, the merest trivialities move him to fever heat, and he talks childish prattle with all the gestures of great passion. And what is worse, interesting himself greatly in himself, he thinks it very natural that this interest should be shared by all the world. Do not imagine that his is a loving heart that feels a necessity of spending itself on others. He likes to make his emotions spectacular, and as his impressions are events for him, he would like to display them, even to the inhabitants of Sirius. His soul is like a lake swept by a gale of wind that would drive a man-of-war at the rate of twenty-five knots an hour; and on this lake Stephane sails his squadrons of nutshells, and he sees them come, go, tack, run around, and capsize. He keeps his log- book very accurately, pompously registers all the shipwrecks, and as these spectacles transport him with admiration, he is indignant to find that he alone is moved by them. This is what makes him unhappy; and you will agree with me that it is not my fault. The regime which I prescribe for my invalid may appear to you a little severe, but it's the only way by which I can hope to cure him. Leading a regular, uniform life,--and sad enough I admit--he will gradually become surfeited with his own emotions when the objects of them are never renewed, and he will end, I hope, by demanding the diversions of work and study. May he be able some day to discover that a problem of Euclid is more interesting than the wreck of a nutshell! Upon that day he will enter upon full convalescence, and I shall not be the last to rejoice in it." M. Leminof spoke in a tone so serious and composed, that for a few moments Gilbert could have imagined him a pedagogue gravely explaining his maxims of education; but he could not forget that expression of ferocious joy which was depicted on his face at the moment when Stephane fled sobbing from the garden, and he remembered also the somnambulist who, on the preceding night, had uttered certain broken phrases in regard to a LIVING PORTRAIT and a BURIED SMILE. These mysterious words, terrible in their obscurity, had appeared to him to allude to Stephane, and they accorded badly with the airs of paternal solicitude which M. Leminof had deigned to affect in the past few minutes. He had a show of reason, however, in his argument; and the picture which he drew of his son, if cruelly exaggerated, had still some points of resemblance. Only Gilbert had reason to think that the Count purposely confounded cause and effect, and that Stephane's malady was the work of the physician. "Will you permit me, sir," answered he, "to tell you all that I have on my heart?" "Speak, speak, improve the opportunity: I swear to you it won't occur again." And looking at his watch: "You have still five minutes to talk with me about my son. Hurry; I will not grant you two seconds more." "I have heard it said," resumed Gilbert, "that in building bridges and causeways, the best foundations are those which HUMOR the waves of the sea. These are foundations with inclined slopes, which, instead of breaking the waves abruptly, check their movement by degrees, and abate their force without violence." "You favor anodynes, Monsieur disciple of Galen," exclaimed M. Leminof. "Each one according to his temperament. We cannot reconstruct ourselves. I am a very violent, very passionate man, and when, for example, a servant offends me I throw him headforemost downstairs. This happens to me every day." "Between your son and your valet de chambre, the difference is great," answered Gilbert, a little piqued. "Did not your famous revolution proclaim absolute equality between all men?" "In the law it is admirable, but not in the heart of a father." "Good God!" cried the Count, "I do not know that I have a father's heart for my son; I know only that I think a great deal about him, and that I strive according to my abilities to correct in him very grave faults, which threaten to compromise his future welfare. I know also for a certainty that this whiner enjoys some pleasures of which many children of his age are deprived, as, for example, a servant for himself, a horse, and as much money as he wants for his petty diversions. You are not ignorant of the use which he makes of this money, neither in regard to the two thalers expended yesterday to corrupt my valet, nor of the seven crowns with which he purchased the delightful pleasure, the other day in your presence, of having his foot kissed by a troop of young rustics. And at this point, I will tell you that Ivan has reported to me that, on the same day, Stephane turned up his sleeve to make you admire a scar which he carried upon one of his wrists. Oblige me by telling me what blue story he related to you on this subject." This unexpected question troubled Gilbert a little. "To conceal nothing from you," answered he hesitatingly, "he told me, that for an escapade which he had made, he had been condemned to pass a fortnight in a dungeon in irons." "And you believed it!" cried the Count, shrugging his shoulders. "The truth is, that, for a fortnight, I compelled my son to pass one hour every evening in an uninhabited wing of this castle; my intention was not so much to punish him for an act of insubordination, as to cure him of the foolish terrors by which he is tormented, for this boy of sixteen, who often shows himself brave even to rashness, believes in ghosts, in apparitions, in vampires. I ought to authorize him to guard himself at night by the best-toothed of my bulldogs. Oh what a strange compound has God given me for a son!" At this moment the sound of steps was heard in the corridor. "In the name of the kind friendship which you profess for me, sir," exclaimed Gilbert, seizing one of M. Leminof's hands, "I beg of you, do not punish this child for a boyish freak for which I forgive him with all my heart!" "I can refuse you nothing, my dear Gilbert," answered he with a smiling air. "I spare him from his pretended dungeons. I dare hope that you will give me credit for it." "I thank you; but one thing more: the flowers you deprived him of." "Mon Dieu! since you wish it, we will have them restored to him, and to please you, I will content myself with having him make apologies to you in due form." "Make apologies to me!" cried Gilbert in consternation; "but that will be the most cruel of punishments." "We will leave him the choice," said the Count dryly. And as Gilbert insisted: "This time you ask too much!" added he in a tone which admitted of no reply. "It is a question of principles, and in such matters I never compromise." Gilbert perceived that even in Stephane's interest, it was necessary to desist, but he understood also to what extent the pride of the young man would suffer, and cursed himself a thousand times for having spoken. Someone knocked at the door. "Come in," cried the Count in a hoarse voice; and Stephane entered, followed by Ivan.

Stephane remained standing in the middle of the room. He was paler than usual, and kept his eyes on the floor; but his bearing was good, and he affected a resolute air which he rarely displayed in the presence of his father. The Count remained silent for some time; he gazed with a cold eye on the supple and delicate body of his son, the exquisite elegance of his form, his fine and delicate features, framed in the slightly darkened gold of his hair. Never had the beauty of his child filled the heart of his father with keener bitterness. As for Gilbert, he had eyes only for a little black spot which he noticed for the first time upon the uniformly pale complexion of Stephane: it was like an almost imperceptible fly, under the left corner of his mouth. "That is the mole," thought he, and he fancied he could hear the voice of the somnambulist cry: "Take away that mole! it hurts me!" Shuddering at this recollection, he felt tempted to rush from the room; but a look from the Count recalled him to himself; he made a strong effort to master his emotion, and fixing his eyes upon the window, he looked at the falling rain. "As a preliminary question," suddenly exclaimed the Count, speaking to his son; "do me the favor, sir, to tell me how much time you have passed in what you call a dungeon, for I do not remember." Stephane's face colored with a vivid blush. He hesitated a moment and then answered: "I was there in all fifteen hours, which appeared to me as long as fifteen days." "You see!" said the Count, looking at Gilbert. "And now," resumed he, "let us come to the point; a scene of the greatest impropriety occurred in this house this morning. Fritz, my valet, in presenting himself to my secretary, who is my friend, permitted himself to say three times: 'Good-morning, comrade; comrade, good- morning!'" At these words Stephane's lips contracted slightly, as if about to smile; but the smile was arrested on its way. "My little story amuses you, apparently," pursued the Count, raising his head. "It is the incredible folly of Fritz which diverts me," answered Stephane. "His folly seems to me less than his insolence," replied the Count; "but without discussing words, I am delighted to see that you disavow his conduct. I ought not to conceal from you the fact, that this scoundrel wished to make me believe that he acted upon your orders, and I was resolved to punish you severely. I see now that he has lied, and it remains for me but to dismiss him in disgrace." Gilbert trembled lest Stephane's veracity should succumb under this temptation; the young man hesitated but an instant. "I am the guilty one," answered he in a firm voice, "and it is I who should be punished." "What," said M. Leminof, "was it then my son, who, availing himself of the only resources of his mind, conceived this truly happy idea. The invention was admirable, it does honor to your genius. But if Fritz has been but the instrument to carry out your sublime conceptions, why do you laugh at his stupidity?" "Oh, poor soul!" replied Stephane, with animation, "oh! the donkey, how he spoiled my idea! I didn't order him to call M. Saville his comrade, but to treat him as a comrade, which is a different thing. Unfortunately I had not time to give him minute instructions, and he misunderstood me, but he did what he could conscientiously to earn his fee. The poor fellow must be pardoned. I am the only guilty one, I repeat it. I am the one to be punished." "And might we know, sir," said the Count, "what your intention was in causing M. Saville to be insulted by a servant?" "I wished to humiliate him, to disgust him, and to force him to leave this house." "And your motive?" "My motive is that I hate him!" answered he in a hoarse voice. "Always exaggerations," replied the Count sneeringly. "Can you not, sir, rid yourself of this detestable habit of perpetual exaggeration in the expression of your thoughts? Can I not impress upon your mind the maxims upon this subject which two men of equal genius have given us: M. de Metternich and Pigault Lebrun! The first of these illustrious men used to say that superlatives were the seals of fools, and the second wrote these immortal words: "'Everything exaggerated is insignificant.'" Then extending his arm: "To hate! to hate!" exclaimed he. "You say the word glibly. Do you know what it is? Sorrow, anger, jealousy, antipathy, aversion, you may know all these; but hatred, hatred!--you have no right to say this terrible word. Ah! hatred is a rough work! it is ceaseless torture, it is a cross of lead to carry, and to sustain its weight without breaking down requires very different shoulders than yours!" At this moment Stephane ventured to look his father in the face. He slowly uplifted his eyes, inclining his head backward. His look signified "You are right, I will take your word for it; you are better acquainted with it than I." But the Count's face was so terrible that Stephane closed his eyes and resumed his former attitude. A slight shudder agitated his whole frame. The Count perceived that he was near forgetting himself, and drove back the bitter wave which came up from his heart to his lips in spite of himself: "Besides, my young friend here is the least detestable being in the world," pursued he in a tranquil tone. "Judge for yourself; just now he pleaded your cause to me with so much warmth, that he drew from me a promise not to punish you for what he has the kindness to call only a boy's freak. He even stipulates that I shall restore you your flowers, which he pretends give you delight, and within an hour Ivan will have carried them to your room. In short, two words of apology are all he requires of you. You must admit that one could not have a more accommodating disposition, and that you owe him a thousand thanks." "Apologies! to him!" cried Stephane with a gesture of horror. "You hesitate! oh! this is too much! Do you then wish to revisit a certain rather gloomy hall?" Stephane shuddered, his lips trembled. "In mercy," cried he, "inflict any other punishment upon me you please, but not that one. Oh, no! I cannot go back to that frightful hall. Oh! I entreat you, deprive me of my customary walks for six months; sell Soliman, cut my hair, shave my head,-- anything, yes, anything rather than put my feet in that horrible dungeon again! I shall die there or go mad. You don't want me to become insane?" "When one is unfortunate enough to believe in ghosts and apparitions at the age of sixteen," retorted the Count, "he should free himself as soon as possible from the ridiculous weakness." Stephane's whole body trembled. He staggered a few steps, and falling on his knees before his father, clung to him and cried: "I am only a poor sick child, have pity on me. You are still my father, are you not? and I am still your child? Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu! You do not, you cannot, want your child to die!" "Put an end to this miserable comedy," cried the Count, disengaging himself from Stephane's clasp. "I am your father, and you are my son; no one here doubts it; but your father, sir, has a horror of scenes. This has lasted too long; end it, I tell you. You are already in a suitable posture. The most difficult part is done, the rest is a trifle!" "What do you say, sir?" answered the child impetuously, trying to rise. "I am on my knees to you only. Ah! great God! I to kneel before this man! it is impossible! you know very well it is impossible! The Count, however, pressing his hand upon his shoulder, constrained him to remain upon his knees, and turning his face to Gilbert: "I tell you, you are kneeling before the man you have insulted, and we all understand it." Was it, indeed thus, that Gilbert understood it? Quiet, impassible, his eyes fixed upon the window, he seemed a perfect stranger to all that passed around him. A cry of anguish escaped Stephane, a frightful change came over his face. Three times he tried to rise, and three times the hand of his father weighed him down again, and kept him in a kneeling posture. Then, as if annihilated by the thought of his weakness and powerlessness, he yielded, and covering his eyes with both hands, he murmured these words in a stifled and convulsive voice: "Sir they do me violence,--I ask pardon for hating you." And immediately his strength abandoned him, and he fainted; as a lily broken by the storm, his head sank, and he would have fallen backward, if his father had not signed to Ivan, who raised him like a feather in his robust arms, and carried him hastily out of the room. Gilbert's first care after returning to his turret, was to light a candle and burn Stephane's letter. Then he opened a closet and began to prepare his trunk. While engaged in this task, someone knocked at the door. He had only time to close the closet and the trunk when Ivan appeared with a basket on his arm. The serf came for the flowers, which he had orders to carry to the apartment of his young master. Having placed five or six in his basket, he turned to Gilbert and gave him to understand, in his Teutonic gibberish mingled with French, that he had something important to communicate to him. Gilbert answered in a tone of ill-humor, that he had not time to listen to him. Ivan shook his head with a pensive air, and left. Gilbert immediately seated himself at the table, and upon the first scrap of paper which came under his hand, hastily wrote the following lines: "Poor child, do not distress yourself too much for the humiliation to which you have just submitted. As you said yourself, you yielded only to violence, and your apologies are void in my eyes. Believe me, I exact nothing. Why did I not divine, this morning, that Fritz spoke in your name! I should not have felt offended, for it is not to me that your insults are addressed, it is to some strange Gilbert of your imagination. I am not acquainted with him. But what can it avail you to provoke contests, the result of which is certain in advance? It is a hand of iron which lately weighed upon your shoulder. Do you hope then to free yourself so soon from its grasp? Believe me, submit yourself to your lot, and mitigate its rigors by patience, until the day when your eyes have become strong enough to dare to look him in the face, and your hand manly enough to throw the gage of battle. Poor child the only consolation I can offer you in your misfortune I should be a culprit to refuse. I have but one night more to pass here; keep this secret for me for twenty-four hours, and receive the adieus of that Gilbert whom you have never known. One day he passed near you and looked at you, and you read an offensive curiosity in his eyes. I swear to you, they were full of tears." Gilbert folded this letter, and slid it under the facing of one of his sleeves; then taking the key of the private door in his hand, and posting himself at the head of the staircase, he waited Ivan's return. As soon as he heard the sound of his steps in the corridor, he descended rapidly and met him on the landing at the gallery. "I do not know what to do," said Ivan to him. "My young master is not himself, and he has broken the first flower-pots I carried to him in a thousand pieces." "Take the others too," replied Gilbert, taking care to let him see the key which he flourished in his hand. "You can put them in your room for the time being. When he becomes calmer he will be glad to see them again." "But will it not be better to leave them with you until he asks for them?" "I don't want to keep them half an hour longer," replied Gilbert quickly, and he descended the first steps of the private staircase. "As you are going on the terrace, sir," cried the serf to him, "don't forget, I beg of you, to close the door behind you." Gilbert promised this. "It works well," thought he; "his caution proves to me that the wicket is not closed." He was not mistaken. For the convenience of his transportation, the serf had left it half open, only taking the precaution to close and double-lock the door of the grand staircase. Gilbert waited until Ivan had reached the second story, and immediately remounting upon tiptoe, he darted into the corridor, followed its entire length, turned to the right, passed before the Count's study, turned a second time to the right, found himself in the gallery which led to the square tower, sprang through the wicket, and arrived without obstacle at the foot of the tower staircase. He found the steps littered with the debris of broken pots and flowers. As he began to descend, loud voices came to his ears; he thought for a moment that M. Leminof was with his son. This did not turn him from his project. He had nothing to conceal. "I will beg the Count himself," thought he, "to read my farewell letter to his son." Having reached the top of the staircase, he crossed a vestibule and found himself in a long, dark alcove, lighted by a solitary glass door, opening into the great room ordinarily occupied by Stephane. This door was ajar, and the strange scene which presented itself to Gilbert, as he approached, held him motionless a few steps from the threshold. Stephane, with his back towards him, stood with his arms crossed upon his breast. He was not speaking to his father, but to two pictures of saints hanging from the wall above a lighted taper. These two paintings on wood, in the style of Father Alexis, represented St. George and St. Sergius. The child, looking at them with burning eyes, apostrophized them in a voice trembling with anger, at intervals stamping his foot and running his hands furiously through his long hair and tossing it in wild disorder. Illustrious Saints of the Eastern Church, heard you ever such language before? Then he sprang on a chair, tore the two pictures from the wall, threw them to the ground, and seizing his riding whip, switched them furiously. In this affair, St. George lost half of his head and one of his legs, and St. Sergius was disfigured for the rest of his days. When he had satisfied his fury, Stephane hung them up again on their nails, turning their faces to the wall, and blew out the lamp; then he rolled upon the floor, twisting his arms and tearing his hair--but suddenly sitting up, he drew from his bosom a small, heart-shaped medallion which he gazed on fixedly, and as he looked the tears began to roll down his cheeks, and in the midst of his sobs, he cried out: "Oh, my mother! I desire nothing from you! you could do nothing for me; but why did I have time to know you? To remember! to remember-- what torment! Yes, I can see you now-- Every morning you gave me a kiss, high on my forehead at the roots of my hair. The mark is there yet--sometimes it burns me. I have often looked in the glass to see if I had not a scar there-- Oh, my mother! come and heal my wound by renewing it! To be kissed by one's mother, Great God! what happiness! Oh! for a kiss, for a single kiss from you, I would brave a thousand dangers, I would give my blood, my life, my soul. Ah! how sad you look! there are tears in your eyes. You recognize me, do you not? I am much changed, much changed; but I have always your look, your forehead, your mouth, your hair." Then starting up suddenly, Stephane walked around the room with an unsteady step. He held the medallion closely grasped in his right hand and kept his eyes upon it. Again he held it out at arm's length and looked at it steadily with half-closed eyes, or drawing it nearer to him, he said to it sweet and tender things, pressing it to his lips, kissing it a thousand times and passing it over his hair and his cheeks wet with tears; it seemed as though he were trying to make some particle of this sacred image penetrate his life and being. At last, placing it on the bed, he knelt before it, and burying his face in his hands, cried out sobbing, "Mother, mother, it is long since your daughter died. When will you call your son to you?" Gilbert retired in silence. A voice from this room said to him: "Thou art out of place here. Take care not to meddle in the secret communion of a son and his mother. Great sorrows have something sacred about them. Even pity profanes them by its presence." He descended the staircase with precaution. When he had reached the last step,--extending his arm in the direction of the Count's room, he muttered in a low tone: "You have lied! Under that tunic of black velvet there is a beating heart!" Then advancing with a rapid step through the corridor, he hoped to pass out unseen; but on reaching the wicket, he found himself face to face with Ivan, who was coming out of his room, and who in his surprise dropped the basket he held in his hand. "You here!" exclaimed he in a severe tone. "Another would have paid dearly for this--" Then in a soft voice, expressing profound melancholy: "Brother," said he, "do you want both of us to be killed? I see you do not know the man whose orders you dare to brave." And he added, bowing humbly: "You will pardon me for calling you brother? In my mouth, that does not mean 'comrade.'" Gilbert gave a sign of assent, and started to leave, but the serf, holding him by the arm, said: "Fortunately the barine has gone out; but take care; two days since he had one of his turns, he has one every year, and while they last, his mind wanders at night, and his anger is terrible during the day. I tell you there is a storm in the air, do not draw the thunderbolt upon your head." Then placing himself between Gilbert and the door, he added with a grave air: "Upon your conscience, what have you been doing here? Have you seen my young father? Has he been talking to himself? You could understand what he said, for he always talks in French. He only knows enough Russian to scold me. Tell me, what have you heard? I must know." "Don't be alarmed," answered Gilbert. "If he has secrets he has not betrayed them. He was engaged in complaining to himself, in scolding the saints and weeping. Neither must you think that I came hither to spy upon him, or to question him. As he had met with sorrow, I wanted to console him by imparting the agreeable news of my near departure; but I had not the courage to show myself to him, and besides, I am not quite certain now what I shall do." "Yes, you will do well to go," eagerly answered the serf; "but go secretly, without warning anyone. I will help you, if you wish it. You are too inquisitive to remain here. Certain suspicions have already been excited on your account, which I have combated. Then, too, you are imprudent!" Thus saying, he drew from his pocket the candle which Gilbert had dropped in the corridor, the preceding night. "Fortunately," said he, returning it to him, "it was I who found it, and picked it up, and I wish you well, you know why. But before going from here," added he in a solemn tone, "swear to me, that during the time you may yet remain in this house, you will not try to come into this gallery again, and that you will not ramble in the other any more in the night. I tell you your life is in danger if you do." Gilbert answered him by a gesture of assent, and passing the wicket, regained his room, where alternately standing at the window, or stretched upon an easy-chair, he passed two full hours communing with his thoughts. The dinner-bell put an end to his long meditations. There was but little conversation during the repast. M. Leminof was grave and gloomy, and seemed to be laboring under a great nervous excitement which he strove to conceal. Stephane was calmer than would have been expected, after the violent emotions he had experienced, but there was something singular in his look. Father Alexis alone wore his everyday face; he found it very good, and did not judge it expedient to change it. Towards the end of the repast, Gilbert was surprised to see Stephane, who was in the habit of drinking only wine and water, fill his glass with Marsala three times, and swallow it almost at a single draught. The young man was not long in feeling the effect of it; his face flushed, and his gaze became vacant. Towards the close of the meal, he looked a great deal at the Apocalyptic frescoes of the vaulted ceiling: then turning suddenly to his father, he ventured to address him a question. It was the first time for nearly two years,--an event which made even Father Alexis open his eyes. "Is it true," asked Stephane, "that living persons, supposed to be dead, have sometimes been buried?" "Yes, it has sometimes happened," replied the Count. "But is there no way of establishing the certainty of death?" "Some say yes, others no. I have been told of a frozen man who was dissected in a hospital. The operator, in opening him, saw his heart beating in his breast; he took flight and is running yet." "But when one dies a violent death--poisoned, for example?" "My opinion is, that they can still be mistaken. Physiology is a great mystery." "Oh! that would be horrible," said Stephane in a penetrating voice; "to awaken by bruising one's forehead against the cover of a coffin." "It would certainly be a very disagreeable experience, answered the Count. And the conversation dropped. Stephane appeared very much affected by his father's answers. He gazed no more at the ceiling, but fixed his eyes on his plate. His face changed color several times, and as if feeling the need of stupefying himself, he filled his glass with wine for the fourth time, but he could not empty it, and had hardly touched it with his lips before he set it on the table with an air of disgust. Tea was brought in. M. Leminof served it; and leaving his cup to cool, rose and walked the floor. After making two or three turns, he called Gilbert, and leaning upon his arm continued his walk, talking with him about the political news of the day. Stephane saw them come and go; he was evidently deeply agitated. Suddenly, at the moment when they turned their backs, he drew from his sleeve a small packet, which contained a pinch of yellow powder, and unfolding it quickly, held it over his still full cup; but as he was about emptying it, his hand trembled, and at this moment, his father and Gilbert returning to his side, he had only time to conceal the paper in his hand. In an instant he raised it again, but at the decisive moment his courage again failed him. It was not until the third trial that the yellow powder glided into the cup, where Stephane stirred it with his spoon. This little scene had escaped Gilbert. The Count alone had lost nothing of it; he had eyes at the back of his head. He reseated himself in his place and drank his tea slowly, continuing to talk with Gilbert, and apparently quite unconscious of his son; but not a movement escaped him. Stephane looked at his cup steadily, his agitation increased, he breathed heavily, he shuddered, and his hand trembled with feverish excitement. After waiting several minutes, the Count turned to him and, looking him full in the eyes, said: "Well! you do not drink? Cold tea is a bad drug." The child trembled still more; his eyes had a glassy brightness. Turning his head slowly, they wandered over everything about him, the table, the chairs, the plate, and the black oak wainscoting. There are moments when the aspect of the most common objects stirs the soul with solemn emotion. When the condemned man is led out to die, the least straw on the floor of his cell seems to say something to his heart. Finally, gathering all his courage, Stephane raised the cup and carried it to his mouth; but before it had touched his lips, the Count took it roughly from his hands. Stephane uttered a piercing cry and fell back in his chair with closed eyes. M. Leminof looked at him for a moment with a sarcastic and scornful smile; then bending over the cup he examined it with care, smelt of it, and dipping his spoon in it, drew out two or three yellow grains which he rubbed and pulverized between his fingers. Then in a tone as tranquil and as indifferent as if speaking of the rain, or of the fine weather, he said: "It is phosphorus, a sufficiently active poison, and phosphorus matches have been the death of a man more than once. But I saw your little paper some time before. If I am not mistaken the dose was not strong enough." And dipping his finger in the cup, he passed it over his tongue, and curled his lip disdainfully. "I was not mistaken," continued he, "it would only have given you a violent colic. It was very imprudent in you; you do not like to suffer, and you know we have only fresh-water physicians in this neighborhood. Why didn't you wait a few hours? Doctor Vladimir Paulitch will be here to-morrow evening." And then he went on in a more phlegmatic tone. "It should be a first principle to do thoroughly whatever you undertake to do at all. Thus, when a man wants to kill himself according to rule, he should not begin by exciting suspicions in talking of the cemetery. And as these affairs require the exercise of coolness, he should not try to get intoxicated. The courage which a person finds at the bottom of a glass of Marsala is not of a good quality, and the approach of death always sobers one. Finally, when a man has seriously resolved to kill himself, he does not do this little thing at the table, in company, but in his room, after having carefully bolted the door. In short, your little scene has failed in every point, and you do not know the first rudiments of this fine art. I advise you not to meddle with it any more." At these words he pulled the bell for Ivan. "Your young master wanted to kill himself," said he; "take him to his room and prepare him a composing draught that will put him to sleep. Watch with him to-night, and in future be careful not to leave any phosphorus matches in his rooms. Not that I suspect him of entertaining any intense desire of killing himself,--but who knows? Wounded vanity might drive him to try it. As his nerves are excited, you will see that for some days he takes a great deal of exercise. If the weather is fine tomorrow, keep him in the open air all day, and in the evening walk him on the terrace; he must get his blood stirred up." From the moment that his father had taken the poisoned cup from him, Stephane had remained petrified on his chair, with livid face and arms hanging over his knees, giving no sign of life. When Ivan approached to take him away, he rose with a start, and leaning upon the arm of the serf, he crossed the room without opening his eyes. When he had gone, the Count heaved a long sigh of weariness and dejection. "What did I tell you?" exclaimed he, throwing upon Gilbert a scrutinizing look; "this boy has a theatrical turn of mind. I would wager my life that he hadn't the faintest desire to kill himself: he only aimed at exciting us; but certainly if it was the sensitive heart of Father Alexis which he took for a target, he has lost the trouble." And he directed Gilbert's attention to the worthy priest, who, as soon as he had emptied his cup, had fallen sound asleep on his stool, and smiled at the angels in his dreams. Gilbert gave the Count a lively and agreeable surprise by answering him in the steadiest tone: "You are entirely right, sir; it was only a very ridiculous affectation. Fortunately, we may consider it pretty certain that our young tragedian will not regale us a second time with his little play. Where courage is required, it is good to have an opportunity of seeing to the bottom of one's sack; nothing is more likely to cure a boaster of the foolish mania for blustering." "Decidedly my secretary is improving," thought the Count; "he has a tender mouth and feels the curb." And in the joy which this discovery gave him, he felt that he entertained for him sentiments of real friendship, of which he would not have believed himself capable. His surprise and pleasure increased still more when Gilbert resumed: "But apropos, sir, do you persist in believing that, according to Constantius Porphyrogennatus, all Greece became Slavonian in the eighteenth century? I have new objections to present to you on that subject. And first this famous Copronymus of whom he speaks. . . ." They did not rise from the table until eleven o'clock. It was necessary to awaken Father Alexis, who slept during the whole time, his right arm extended over his plate, and his head leaning upon his elbow. The Count having shaken him, he rose with a start and exclaimed: "Don't touch it! The colors are all fresh; Jacob's beard is such a fine gray!" The compliant secretary retired humming an aria. M. Leminof followed him with his eyes, and, pointing after him, said to his serf in a confidential tone: "Thou seest that man there; just fancy! I feel friendship for him. He is at least my most cherished--habit. My suspicions were absurd, thou wert right in combating them. By way of precaution, however, make a tour of the corridor between midnight and two o'clock. Now come and double-lock me in my room, for I feel a paroxysm coming on. To-morrow at five o'clock thou wilt come to open it for me." "Count Kostia!" murmured Gilbert, when he found himself in his room, "fear no longer that I shall think of leaving you. Whatever happens, I remain here. Count Kostia, understand me, you have buried the smile: I take heaven to witness that I will resuscitate it."

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